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being a compendium of: 




with a special section of: 




© 1976, Dennie Van Tassel. All rights reserved. 

Printed in the United States of America. 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 

Main entry under title: 

The Compleat computer. 

Bibliography: p. 

Includes index. 

1. Computers—Addresses, essays, lectures. 2. Computers 
and civilization—Addresses, essays, lectures. 

I. Van Tassel, Dennie, 1939- 
QA76.C547 301.24’3 75-31760 

ISNB 0-574-21060-1 


“I Am a Computer.” reprinted with permission of The 
Wall Street Journal, © Dow Jones & Company, 

Inc. (1973). 

“Impermanent Balance Between Man and Computer,” 
Ruth Davis. Science, Vol. 186, p. 99, 11 October 1974. 
Copyright 1974 by the American Association for the 
Advancement of Science. 

“All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace,” 

Richard Brautigan. Excerpted from THE PILL VERSUS 
Brautigan. Copyright © 1968 by Richard Brautigan. 
Reprinted by permission of Delacorte Press/Seymour 

“Computers Aren’t So Smart After All.” Copyright 
© 1974, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, 

Mass. Reprinted with permission. 

“The Computer and the Poet,” Norman Cousins. 

© 1966, Saturday Review/World. 

“The Development of Automatic Computing,” reprinted 
by permission of the author, Harry D. Huskey, and 
AFIPS press. 

“Man and the Computer,” “Computer Generations,” 

“How a Typical Computer Works,” “The Human Mind 
and the Machine Brain,” and “Computer Career 
Opportunities” reprinted by permission of the Honey¬ 
well Corporation, Welleseley Hills, Mass. 

“The Brain and the Computer,” Claude E. Shannon. 

From Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers 
(1953), reprinted by permission of IEEE. 

“Magnetic Larceny.” Reprinted with permission from 
the October 1973 issue of MODERN DATA. All rights 

“Technology, McDonald’s Collide.” Copyright by 
Computerworld, Newton, Mass. 02160. (June 4, 1975 

“ELIZA,” J. Weizenbaum. From “Contextual Under¬ 
standing by Computers,” COMMUNICATIONS OF THE 
ACM, Vol. 10, No. 8, August 1967, pages 474-80. 
Copyright 1967, by Association for Computing Machinery, 
Inc. Reprinted by permission. 

“Medical Transition,” from FIVE PATIENTS by 
Michael Crichton. Reprinted by permission of Alfred 
A. Knopf, Inc. and International Creative Management, 
New York, N.Y. 

“The Machines Beyond Shylock,” Ray Bradbury. 
Reprinted from Computer Magazine (formerly Computer 
Group News). 

“The Great Data Famine,” Art Buchwald. Reprinted by 
permission of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. 

“What’s in a Robot?” Reprinted from Electronics, 

July 19, 1973; copyright McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1973. 

“You Are an Interfacer of Black Boxes,” Richard Todd. 
Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates 
Incorporated. Copyright © 1970 by Richard Todd. 

“Sports and EDP,” by J. Gerry Purdy. Reprinted with 
the permission of DATAMATION ® copyright 1974 
by Technical Publishing Company, Greenwich, 
Connecticut 06830. 

“Computer Games People Play” reprinted from 
INFOSYSTEMS (October 1973). By Permission of 
the Publisher. © 1975 HITCHCOCK PUBLISHING 

“The Nine Billion Names of God,” Arthur C. Clarke. 
Reprinted by permission of the author and the author’s 
agents, Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Inc., 580 
Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10036. 

“Promise-Child in the Land of the Humans.” Copyright 
1971, Smithsonian Institution, from SMITHSONIAN 
Magazine April 1971. 

“The Psychology of Robots” by Henry Block and 
Herbert Ginsberg. Reprinted from PSYCHOLOGY TODAY 
Magazine April 1968. Copyright © 1968 Ziff-Davis 
Publishing Company. All rights reserved. 

“Will a Computer be World Chess Champion? 

Edward Kozdrowicki and Dennis W. Cooper. Reprinted 
from COMPUTER DECISIONS, August, 1974, page 28, 
copyright 1974, Hayden Publishing Company. 

“Counter-Computer,” Stewart Brand. From Rolling 
Stone. © 1974 by Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc., all 
rights reserved. Reprinted by Permission. 

“Commission Drops DP System” from the February 9, 
1972 issue of COMPUTERWORLD. Copyright by 
Computerworld, Newton, Mass. 02160. 

“Maximilian the Great,” James F. Ryan. Reprinted by 

“Those Onmipresent Minis.” Reprinted with the 
permission of DATAMATION. © 1973 by Technical 
Publishing Company, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830. 
“Computers in the Home,” from “The Home” by 
G. CUTTLE, in Living with the Computer, ed. 

Basil de Ferrasti. © Oxford University Press 1971, 
pp. 1-6, by permission of the Oxford University 
Press, Oxford. 

“Help Wanted: 50,000 Programmers,” Gene Bylinsky, 
from FORTUNE (March 1967). Reprinted by permission 

“UNIVAC TO UNIVAC,” Louis B. Solomon, by permission 
of the author. Copyright © 1958 by Harper’s Magazine. 
Reprinted from the March 1958 issue by special 

“There Will Come Soft Rains.” © 1950 by Ray Bradbury, 
reprinted by permission of the Harold Matson 
Company, Inc. 

“The Imitation Game” from A.M. Turing, “Computing 
Machinery and Intelligence” (Mind 59:236, 1950). 
Reprinted by permission of Basil Blackwell and Mott Ltd. 

“What Computers Will Be Telling You,” by 
Peter F. Drucker. © 1966, NATION’S BUSINESS-the 
Chamber of Commerce of the United States. Reprinted 
from the August issue. By permission of the author. 

“When ‘Brains’ Take over Factories.” Copyright 1964 
U.S. News and World Report, Inc. From the February 
24, 1964 issue. 

“Hey Bartender!” Reprinted with the permission of 
The Wall Street Journal, © Dow Jones and Company, 

Inc. (1973). 

“The Curse.” By permission of the author, Art Buchwald. 

“Parry Encounters the Doctor.” Reprinted with the 
permission of DATAMATION © 1973, by Technical 
Publications Company, Greenwich, Conn. 06830. 

“Flight Simulation” copyright 1974 by Computer 
Science Corporation. 

“September 1984” by permission of North American 
Publishers, Philadelphia, PA (Data Processing Magazine, 
March 1970). 

“Diagnosis by Computer.” Reproduced from The Times 
by permission. 

“Computers for the Disabled.” This article first appeared 
in New Society, London, The Weekly Review of the 
Social Sciences. 

“Now Look at It My Way.” Reprinted with permission 
from MODERN DATA, January 1973. All rights reserved. 

“Humanities and Computers.” By permission of North 
American Review (Spring 1971). 

“Cybernetic Scheduler,” “Computer Helps Predict 
Supreme Court Actions,” “Computers Help Fight Fires 
in Scotland,” “Art Professor Generates 3-D Art,” 
“Looking for a Rare Coin?” and “Employee ID Card 
Charges Lunch” by permission of Computers and 

“Computers and Their Priests.” From UP THE 
ORGANIZATION, by Robert Townsend. Copyright 
© 1970 by Robert Townsend. Reprinted by permission 
of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 

“Guerrilla War Against Computers.” Reprinted by 
permission from TIME, The Weekly Newsmagazine. 
Copyright Time Inc. 

“Justice, the Constitution, and Privacy” by permission 
of Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. 

“Computer Leads Watergate Committee to Its Witnesses.” 
Reprinted by permission from the Christian Science 
Monitor. © 1973 The Christian Science Publishing 
Society. All rights reserved. 

“The Unknown Citizen.” Copyright 1940 and renewed 
1968 by W. H. Auden. Reprinted from COLLECTED 
SHORTER POEMS 1927-1957, by W. H. Auden, by 
permission of Random House, Inc. Also reprinted by 
permission of Faber and Faber Ltd. 

“FBI Breakthrough.” Reprinted by permission of 
PARADE Magazine. 

“Computerized Criminal Histories.” Copyright by 
Computerworld, Newton, Mass. 02160. 

“Congress Puts the Computer to Work.” © 1973, 
NATION’S BUSINESS— the Chamber of Commerce of 
the United States. Reprinted from the May issue. 

“The City and the Computer Revolution.” Reprinted 
from “The City and the Computer Revolution” by 
John G. Kemeny in Monograph #7 of the American 
Academy of Political and Social Science. © 1967 by 
the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 

“We Need Protection.” Copyright by Computerworld, 
Newton, Mass. 02160. 

“VASCAR”. Reprinted by permission from Changing 
Times, the Kiplinger Magazine (October 1971 issue). 
Copyright 1971 by The Kiplinger Washington Editors, 

Inc., 1729 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006. 

“Waiting for the Great Computer Rip-Off.” Reprinted from 
the July 1974 issue of Fortune Magazine by special 
permission; © 1974 Time Inc. 

“Computerized Dating.” Reprinted by permission of 
the author, Harvey Matusow. 

“Decisions and Public Opinion.” Reprinted by permission 
of the author, Donald Michael. 

“The Data Bankers.” Copyright © 1970 Celia Gilbert, 
reprinted from The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, 
Mass., with permission. 

“The Snooping Machine.” Reprinted by permission of 
the author, Alan Westin. Originally appeared in PLAYBOY 
Magazine; copyright © 1968 by Playboy. 

“And It Will Serve Us Right.” “The Son of Thetis,” 
originally titled “And It Will Serve Us Right,” copyright 
© 1969 by Communication/Research/Machines, Inc. 
Isaac Asimov. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday and 
Company, Inc. 

“Mind-Reading Computer.” Reprinted by permission 
from TIME, the Weekly Newsmagazine Copyright 
Time Inc. 

“Machines Smarter Than Men?” Copyright 1964 U.S. 

News and World Report, Inc. from the February 24, 

1964 issue. 

“On the Impact of the Computer on Society,” by 
J. Weizenbaum. Science, Vol. 176, pp. 609-14, 12 May 
1972. Copyright 1972 by the American Association 
for the Advancement of Science. Also reprinted by 
permission of the author. 

“Traces” reprinted by permission of the author, 

J. Patrick Liteky, from the 30 August 1974 issue of 
SUNDAZ! To be published in a forthcoming book. 

“Automation.” By permission of Labor Education 
Division, Roosevelt University, Chicago, III. 

“Deus ex Machina.” Reprinted by permission of the 
author, Kit Pedler. 

“What Computers Cannot Do,” Bill Surface. © 1968, 
Saturday Review/World. 

“Computer Crime.” From AFIPS FJCC 1970, published 
by AFIPS Press, Montvale, N.J. 

“News Item: Man Bites Ford.” Copyright 1970 by 
Consumers Union of United States, Inc., Mount Vernon, 
N.Y. 10550. Reprinted by permission from CONSUMER 
REPORTS, March 1970. 

“Kibernetika.” © 1964, The Washington Post. 

“The Day the Computers Got Waldon Ashenfelter.” 
Reprinted by permission of the authors, Bob Elliot 
and Ray Goulding. Copyright © 1967 by The Atlantic 
Monthly Company, Boston, Mass. Reprinted with 

“Coming: A Cashless Society?” RCA Electronic Age, 
Winter, 1968-69, pp. 30-34. 

“Hal Lobotomy.” Reprinted by permission of the author 
and the author’s agents, Scott Meredith Literary Agency, 
Inc., 580 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10036. 

“Computers and Dossiers.” Reprinted by permission 
of Fred B. Rothman and Company. 

"Impact of the Friendly Computer.” Reproduced from 
The Times by permission. 

“The Next Three Years.” Reprinted by permission 
of Data Processing Magazine, Philadelphia, PA 19107. 

“Session on Views of the Future.” Reprinted by 
permission of the author, Murray Turoff. 

“Machines Hold Power for Evil or Good.” From “Behold 
the Computer Revolution” by Peter T. White, an article 
in National Geographic (November 1970). 

“We Have Come a Long Way Together.” From “The 
Dynamics of Change,” Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical 
Corporation. © 1967. 

The author also wishes to acknowledge the following 
for supplying artwork: 

Doonesbury cartoons on pp. 4, 23, 39, 67, 101, 127, 

147, 181. Copyright 1975, G. B. Trudeau/distributed 
by Universal Press Syndicate. 

“The Fisherman” (p. 11), “The Hummingbird” (p. 25), 
and “The Woodcut” (p. 30), generated on a California 
Computer Products, Inc., plotter. 

Illustrations on pp. 13, 14, 15, 28 courtesy of IBM. 

Cartoons on pp. 31 and 54 courtesy of Infosystems, 
Wheaton, III. 

Cartoon on p. 34 courtesy of Sidney Harris. 

Illustration on p. 41 courtesy of Forbes Magazine. 

Cartoon on p. 49 courtesy of Kaiser Aluminum and 
Chemical Corporation, Oakland, CA. 

Cartoon on p. 81 courtesy of Modern Data. 

Cartoon on p. 109reproduced by permission of the 
Chicago Tribune. Copyright 1974. All rights reserved. 

Cartoon on p. 113 courtesy of Computers and 

Cartoons on p. 114 and 128 reprinted with special 
permission from INFOSYSTEMS Magazine, February/ 
March issues, copyright 1975 by Hitchcock Publishing 
Co., Wheaton, III. 60187. All rights reserved. 

Cartoons on pp. 121, 161, and 210 courtesy of Ron Cobb. 

Cartoon on p. 143 courtesy of Datamation, 

Los Angeles, CA. 

Cartoons on pp. 151 and 198: Reproduced with 
permission from MODERN DATA, June 1971/Feburary 
1972. All rights reserved. 

Illustration on p. 159 courtesy of Honeywell, Inc. 

Illustration on p. 163 courtesy of Stanford Research 
Institute, Menlo Park, CA. 

Illustration on p. 174 courtesy of Radio Times Hulton 
Picture Library, London. 

Illustration on p. 175 BBC copyright. 

Illustrations on p. 192 courtesy of Bell Laboratories, 
Murray Hill, N.J. 

Illustrations on p. 199 courtesy of Manfred Schroeder. 

Illustration on p. 208: Reprint of cover design from 
the 14th Annual Symposium on Switching and Automata 
Theory Proceedings, October 15-17, 1973. Copyrighted 
by IEEE. Artist: Algy Ray Smith III. 


Gladys and Rush 
Franny and Joe 

Introduction viii 

1 In the Beginning i 

“I AM A COMPUTER,” David Brand 2 


Richard Brautigan 5 




MAN AND THE COMPUTER, Honeywell Corporation 19 



2 How Computers Do It 21 


BONANZA, Catherine Arnst 24 
ELIZA, J. Weizenbaum 25 
MEDICAL TRANSITION, Michael Crichton 26 
COMPUTER GENERATIONS, Honeywell Corporation 28 
HOW A TYPICAL COMPUTER WORKS, Honeywell Corporation 28 
WHAT’S IN A ROBOT?, Electronics 32 


3 The Software 37 


Honeywell Corporation 44 

SPORTS AND EDP . . . IT’S A NEW BALLGAME, J. Gerry Purdy 45 
David Book 58 

4 The Present and Potential 65 

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ROBOTS, Henry Block and Herbert Ginsberg 66 

Edward W. Kozdrowicki and Dennis W. Cooper 72 
COUNTER COMPUTER, Stewart Brand 75 


MAN REPLACES COMPUTER, Marvin Smallheiser 76 
HELP WANTED: 50,000 PROGRAMMERS, Gene Bylinsky 89 


5 Applications 99 


U.S. News and World Report 102 
POCKETA, Jeffrey A. Tannenbaum 104 
THE CURSE, Art Buchwald 106 
FLIGHT SIMULATION, Computer Sciences Corporation 110 
MERCY HOSPITAL, Computers and Automation 114 

NOW LOOK AT IT MY WAY, Modern Data 11 7 







6 Governmental Uses 125 


Trudy Rubin 128 




James D. Snyder 133 


RCA Government and Commercial Systems 134 

E. Drake Lundell, Jr. 135 


Herb Grosche 141 



Changing Times 143 


7 The Impact 

and Automation 151 

THE DATA BANKERS, Celia Gilbert 155 

Gene Shelton and Alexander Scott 158 

MACHINES SMARTER THAN MEN? (Interview with Norbert Wiener) 165 

Joseph Weizenbaum 168 v 

TRACES, J. Patrick Liteky 170 

AUTOMATION, Joe Glazer 1 72 

DEUS EX MACHINA?, Kit Pedler 173 

8 Controls, or Maybe Lack of 
Controls 179 



BANK 182 

COMPUTER CRIME, Dennie Van Tassel 184 

NEWS ITEM: MAN BITES FORD, Consumer Reports 186 

KIBERNETIKA, Bakhtiyar Vagabzade 188 

and Ray Goulding 189 

COMING: A CASHLESS SOCIETY?, Thomas J. Gradel 193 
HAL LOBOTOMY, Arthur C. Clarke 195 

9 Your Future 203 


Fred R. Sheldon 205 

COMPUTER MONITORING, Donald Michael 206 
OPPOSING VIEWS, Murray Turoff 207 
COMPUTERS IN FICTION, Dennie Van Tassel 212 
Computers and Automation 212 



One of thp main goals of this book is to give you an indication of what 
noncomputer specialists think about computers. Thus you will find selections 
from fiction, poetry, newspapers, cartoons, and advertising, as well as articles 
that concern the computer specialist. Also, I wanted to include as much 
material as possible, so I excerpted the longer articles and selected what I felt 
to be the tastiest tidbits. Thus this book has three or four times the normal 
number of selections. 

When you find an article that interests you, look up the original and read 
the whole selection. I have also included many references so you can explore 
interesting topics in greater depth. I urge you at least to read the exercises, 
since they are an integral part of the book that will expose you to many of the 
diverse opinions about the use of computers. 

Finally, the book is meant to be fun and beautiful. Humor, computer¬ 
generated art, fiction, and cartoons are placed throughout the text to make 
it as enjoyable to read as it was to put together. 

You can understand the articles in this text without a computer or math¬ 
ematical background. But the book will still be of interest to you with 
computer backgrounds, since its purpose is not to teach you how to use com¬ 
puters but to indicate their effects on your everyday lives. 

I wish to thank Don Mann, Carl Graeme, Susan Finch, Doug Haden, 

Paul Cheney, Denbigh Starkey, Stan Rothman, Dave Nuesse, Frank Holden, 
Joan Stepenske, Robert Bostrom, and Marilyn Bohl, who suggested many of 
the selections; A1 Rogers, for supplying much of the science fiction art; and 
Leslie Mezei, who suggested several hard-to-locate computer-related poems. 

And my excellent SRA editor Bob Walczak, who spent a great deal of time 
with me suggesting additions and deletions. Thanks also to my development 
editor, Kay Nerode. The designer, Janet Bollow, did a great job on the art 
layout to make this a beautiful book. Thanks to all. 






*1 Am a Computer* 


Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal 

In a University of Utah Laboratory, 
the magnificent tenor voice emerges 
from the loudspeakers with all of the 
sparkle of high-fidelity sound. The 
last time this voice was heard with 
such lifelike clarity was in a concert 
hall more than 50 years ago. It is the 
voice of Enrico Caruso. 

At Stanford University in Cali¬ 
fornia, a television camera guides a 
mechanical arm—the same way your 
eye guides your arm movements—as it 
picks up the pieces of a water pump, 
assembles them, and screws them 
together. There are no human 
operators in sight. 

At Bell Laboratories in Murray 
Hill, N.J., the chief of acoustical 
research, James Flanagan, flicks a 
switch. From a loudspeaker comes a 
strange, rolling voice that is struggling 
for speech: "Good morning. I am a 
computer. I can read stories and 
speak them aloud. . . 

These are the forerunners of the 
"intelligent machines” of the future. 
They are computers that not only 
can perform such technical alchemy 
as recreating Caruso's voice from a 
morass of distorted recording sounds, 
but also can imitate man through 
movement, speech and, most 
significantly, thought processes. 


Within a generation, researchers say, 
these machines could be operating 
whole assembly lines and com¬ 
municating with people through 
human speech, thus turning the 
nearest telephone into a computer 
keyboard. They could be performing 
such complex tasks as medical 
diagnosis, weather forecasting, and 
reading books and storing the 
information contained in them. 

To some extent, the researchers 
say, such machines are acting 
independently of their human 
creators. "I think you can say that 
the computer is now showing intui¬ 
tion and the ability to think for 
itself,” says Herbert Simon, professor 
of computer science and psychology 
at Carnegie-Mellon University, 
Pittsburgh. "Some of us don't see 
any principle or reason that would 
prevent machines from becoming 
more intelligent than man.” 

Despite its public image as an 
infallible machine, the computer's 
role in the past has been basically 

that of a servile calculator and 
record-keeper. But the development 
of computers with ever larger 
memories, and, more important, the 
discovery of new ways to instruct 
computers to carry out tasks, have 
given birth to a new technology 
loosely called artificial intelligence. 

Computer scientists see intelligent 
machines as causing a revolution of 
sorts. Whereas in the first phase of 
the technological age engineering has 
improved the physical comfort of the 
human race by developing such 
things as the automobile, the jet 
plane and a whole host of appliances, 
the next phase, they say, is the 
improvement of man's mental 


By relieving man of dull, repetitive 
tasks, by readily providing him with 
information and instruction and by 
solving problems, the computer of 
the future will be "a steam engine as 
applied to the mind,” says Carnegie- 
Mellon's Mr. Simon. 

The only thing standing in the 
way of this evolution is a potential 
shortage of funds to support the 
enormously costly research. The 
Department of Defense, which until 
now has been the major sponsor of 
artificial-intelligence research (in 
fiscal 1973 it paid out about $6 
million) is under pressure from 
Congress to drop research that isn't 
related to defense. There is only a 
smattering of interest in industry 
(even IBM says it's "too long-range”) 
and the only other source of funds 
is the government's National Science 
Foundation, which spent about 
$250,000 on this sort of research in 
fiscal 1973. 

In giving birth to the intelligent 
machines, man is designing them in 
his own image. Some will have a 
voice like a human's and the ability 
to understand speech. Some will have 
eyes (a television camera), ears (a 
microphone), arms (an industrial 
manipulator), or legs (a wheeled 

Even the thought processes are 
being modeled on those of humans. 
Scientists are trying to understand 
more about the brain's reasoning 
powers so that they can be simulated 
in a program, or set of instructions 
fed into a computer. 


Marvin Minsky, professor of electrical 
engineering at the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology and director 
of the artificial-intelligence laboratory 
there, explains how human reasoning 
can be built into a program that 
instructs a computer to, say, play a 
game of checkers. A person playing 
the game doesn't attempt to calcu¬ 
late all possible future plays every 
time a piece is moved—it would be 
impossible because the permutations 
could run into the billions. Even 
for a computer the calculations 
required for such an extensive search 
would be ridiculous. 

Instead, the human player uses 
judgment, memory, and plain trial- 
and-error in planning the next move. 
The intelligent computer figures 
out its move in much the same way. 
Instead of making many calculations, 
it makes just a few based on what it 
knows has worked well in the past. 
Such a computer program is the very 
basis of artificial intelligence. 

Like people, intelligent computers 
learn from experience and from their 
mistakes, Mr. Minsky says. In this 
way they are able to improve on 
their performance. "The evidence, 
is strong," Mr. Minsky says, "That 
there is a similarity in the learning 
processes used by humans and by 
some of these new computers." 

The Caruso experiment at the 
University of Utah is one example of 
how people and computers are 
beginning to work closely together. 
The original Caruso recording was 
made in 1907, and the muffled sound 
of Caruso's voice was barely audible 
through the background noise and 
tinny musical accompaniment. 

Researchers Tom Stockham and 
Neil Miller worked out a unique 
voice-analysis and voice-synthesis 
program that they fed into a 
computer. The old Caruso record 
was then played to the computer 
so that the machine could analyze 
the sound signals and extract such 
information from them as pitch, 
intensity, and vocal resonance. 

The computer was then able to 
construct an artificial voice signal 
(a sort of synthetic Caruso), based 
on what the information indicated 
Caruso probably sounded like, and 
put it on recording tape. 

Trial and error are involved in an 

ambitious effort at Carnegie-Mellon 
to instruct computers to understand 
continuous human speech. In one 
experiment a computer has been 
programmed to play chess using 
spoken commands. For this it has 
been taught to understand a variety 
of simple spoken sentences. 

The use of chess is simply a 
convenient method of showing that a 
computer understands; the computer 
has to demonstrate its understanding 
by replying with its own move, and 
that move will clearly show whether 
the computer has understood or not. 
This methods is popular for another 
reason, too: many computer scientists 
are chess nuts. 

The computer's human opponent 
first identifies himself to the machine 
by speaking a few simple sentences 
into a microphone. As the computer 
"hears" the sounds, it stores them 
in its memory by assigning mathe¬ 
matical values to the various 
phonetic features of the voice. This 
takes about 30 minutes and gives the 
computer what researcher Raj Reddy 
calls "a model" of an individual's 

“Some of us don’t see any 
principle or reason that would 
prevent machines from becoming 
more intelligent than man.” 

When this person speaks to the 
computer again, the machine will 
compare these sounds with the model 
in its memory. Once the correct 
phonetic features have been identi¬ 
fied (which takes only a fraction of 
a second) the computer can, over a 
loudspeaker, repeat what has been 
said by rearranging tape-recorded 
words. But this, says Mr. Reddy, is 
simply "parroting." The computer 
has to show it understands what has 
been said by printing out the words 
and then replying with its own move. 

To do this the computer must 
use the vocabulary, grammar, and 
semantics in its memory and judge 
which words match up with the 
acoustical signals from the voice. 

This, says Mr. Reddy, may be the 
process by which humans understand 
each other's speech. 

It takes the computer only a few 
guesses, in the space of less than 10 
seconds, to recognize what its human 
opponent has said (despite the five 

million spoken moves it can under¬ 
stand) and to print the words on a 
television screen. The computer then 
prints out its own move. 


Complete strangers bewilder the 
computer at first, just as human 
understanding is slowed when 
someone is confronted with a strange 
accent. A recent visitor challenged 
the computer to a game of chess and 
opened with the move "pawn to king 
four." The computer began printing 
out versions of what it thought had 
been said, rejecting each version as 
it failed to match the information in 
its memory. Finally, after two 
minutes and 109 guesses, it found the 
answer and printed out "pawn to 
king four." Then it made its own 

Computers that can recognize 
limited human speech are already 
finding their way into the market. 
One, made by Threshold Technology 
of Cinnaminson, N.J., was installed 
by Trans World Airlines in January 
to route outgoing luggage at New 
York's Kennedy Airport. As a bag is 
put onto the conveyor belt the 
handler reads the flight number into 
a microphone. The computer "hears" 
the number and channels the bag 
into the correct loading area. 

If Carnegie-Mellon scientists are 
giving the computers ears, then the 
scientists at Bell Labs are giving 
them their voices. Already the Bell 
Labs computer has 1600 words in 
its pronouncing dictionary and is 
capable of reciting a short story. 

The computer, of course, doesn't 
make up this story itself. It is typed 
into the machine in ordinary English. 
Then the computer "reads" the text 
and looks up each word in its 
pronouncing dictionary. 

A host of calculations follow. The 
computer analyzes the syntax in order 
to time its speech delivery in such a 
way that the listener will be able to 
distinguish between such phrases as 
"a nice man" and "an ice man." 

Then it must determine correct 
pitches—whether the voice should be 
raised or lowered for a particular 
phrase. Finally it has to figure out 
how the human vocal tract would 
pronounce each word, so that the 
computer can generate an accurate 
electric speech signal. The signal's 

WELL, here: X S/T AT 


you TOST P/LL w A FORM, 




(§>1970 UNlV£t*3At pa eg SYAJPICAT* 

HI there! my name's 
YOU, v ’ 





sound waves are then fed to an 
ordinary loudspeaker or recorded on 
magnetic tape. 

In order to give the computer 
details about the vocal track, Bell 
Labs researchers first had to find out 
what rules govern the way in which 
the throat and mouth move to 
produce words. The rules were put 
together from a study of people 
speaking with an American accent 
"typically Midwestern in character/' 
Says researcher Cecil Coker, "We 
strung optical fibers (fibers that carry 
light) down their throats and even 
X-rayed them." 

These rules have produced a 
computer voice with an accent all its 
own. It has been described by some 
as vaguely Swedish-American after 
several martinis. Mr. Flanagan of Bell 
Labs, who heads the voice-synthesis 
project, says that the strangeness of 
the voice is due to the fact that "we 
haven't yet been able to duplicate all 
of the things a human can do in 
speaking. We still don't understand 
all of the vagaries of vocal inflection." 
But one day, he says, it may be 
possible to command the computer 
to imitate any accent. 

Talking computers have already 
been used in a limited way in 
industry. In the past, Western 
Electric production-line workers have 
routinely assembled complex equip¬ 
ment on the basis of tape-recorded 
instructions. These are calculated by 
a computer, printed out, and then 
recorded on tape by an announcer. 

In an experiment to shorten this 
process, the Bell Labs researchers 
told the computer to calculate the 
instructions and then speak them 
directly to an automatic recorder. 
These instructions in recorded 
computer speech have been success¬ 

fully used on a Western Electric 
assembly line in Oklahoma City. 

The voice-synthesis experiments 
have shown that a computer can 
readily understand English text. Now 
Carnegie-Mellon scientists have taken 
this one step further: converting 
English text into a computer 

Mr. Simon and researcher John 
Hayes devised a problem in the 
form of prose. It was called "The 
Himalayan tea ceremony" and in 
flowery English it set up a puzzle 
that required the transfer of five 
tasks among three persons. It took 
the computer just 40 seconds to read 
the problem, change it to computer 
code, and produce its own program 
to solve the problem of finding the 
sequence of transfers from the 
beginning of the ceremony to the 

Such a simple method of program¬ 
ming could revolutionize industrial 
processes, scientists say. Already 
MIT researchers have shown that a 
computer can be told in ordinary 
written English to do a variety of 


The computer is instructed, for 
example, to pick up blocks of dif¬ 
ferent shapes and colors and arrange 
them in various ways. Thus the 
instructions might be, "Build a stack 
that has two green cubes and a red 
pyramid." (The computer will know 
from past experience that the 
pyramid must go on top of the 

A glimpse of the assembly line of 
the future can be had at Stanford 
University. Here researchers have 
instructed the computer to assemble 

a water pump made of three parts 
and six screws. A television camera 
sends images of the pieces to the 
computer, which has in its memory 
a description of the shape of each 
component. The computer directs a 
mechanical arm as it grasps the 
pieces of the pump, assembles them, 
and screws them together. 

The Stanford scientists have also 
produced one of the more startling 
examples of how an intelligent 
machine can communicate with 
people. The researchers have pro¬ 
grammed a computer to simulate 
paranoia. When questioned over a 
terminal the computer will provide 
written answers that even psychia¬ 
trists are unable to distinguish from 
those of a person suffering from 

Recently eight psychiatrists 
were asked to question the perse¬ 
cuted computer as part of an 
experiment. One conversation went: 

doctor: What problem brought 
you to the hospital? 
computer: I am quite upset. 

Could you tell me why you have 
been upset? 

People get on my nerves sometimes. 
How do they get on your nerves? 

It bothers me when people stare 
at me. 

Why do people stare at you? 

What about my looks? 

The doctors were also asked to 
question actual patients via a 
computer keyboard. Then transcripts 
of all the interviews with patients 
and computer were sent to psychia¬ 
trists around the country who were 
asked to judge whether each inter¬ 
view was conducted with a patient or 
with the computer. Only 51 percent 
of the answers were correct. 

Impermanent Balance between 
Man and Computer 


Director, Institute for Computer Sciences and Technology 

The sciences and technologies of computers, automation, and electronics are 
comparatively new. They differ in many respects from older sciences. Major 
confrontations can be expected—and are already occurring—as the domain of 
these new sciences overlaps that of individuals. 

Except for medicine, science and technology have previously been rather 
aloof and removed from the individual. The atom bomb killed people, but in a 
depersonalized massive way. The machines of the industrial revolution replaced 
people to a considerable extent, but they were replacements of their muscle 
power, not their brains and control power. 

For good reason, man has always zealously guarded his rights to intellect, 
control, and power. As individuals we have always wanted to increase our 
intelligence, our ability to control our environment, and our ability to use 
power for our own ends. 

Thus, it is not surprising that people have always wanted to understand 
these phenomena, to produce artifacts that would increase their own intelli¬ 
gence, control, and power, and to create artifacts in their own image which 
would themselves exhibit these traits. 

Significantly, man's attempts to understand such phenomena have led to 
many important inventions. These include telescopes, cameras, the printing 
press, the gun, television, and the computer. Man's attempts to produce arti¬ 
facts in his own image that possess intelligence, power, and control capabilities 
have resulted in prosthetic sensors, mechanical limbs, robots, and the computer. 

Thus, man has attempted to use the computer to help him understand 
himself, to help him gain more intelligence and power, and to replace himself 
in performing tasks demanding intelligence and the capability to control. It is 
this varying and contradictory role that we have ourselves assigned to computers 
that results in the honest confusion, mistrust, and fear surrounding them. And 
there is presently no balance between man and computer that possesses any 
permanence because of the changing roles man is assigning both to himself 
and to computers. 

Experience tells us that the balance of power and the ratio of intelligence 
between man and computer is still indeterminate. Further, it is not entirely 
under man's control. In particular, as computers increase their capacities to 
perform more of the tasks formerly considered only within man's intellectual 
province, man must equip himself for other functions or his survival will seem 
less important to himself, leading to a physical and intellectual ennui. 

There is already a societal schism in the growing gap between those with 
access to a computer and those without. The balance of power and intelligence 
is tipped in favor of the man-computer partnership. It is apparent in the com¬ 
parative efficiencies of handling paper work in companies with and without 
computers. Chemical companies employing process-control computers operate 
much more efficiently than those without. And finally, the individual with a 
computer at his command is favored in his intellectual endeavors. 

The increasing imbalance is also suggested by the observation that man 
appears to be increasing the number of "intelligent" tasks for computers faster 
than he is for himself. 

Nonetheless, two positive predictions are offered which promise a more 
comfortable balance between man and computer. They are that computers will 
make possible the realization of intelligent behavior that is essentially limitless, 
transcending man and computer taken separately, and that computers will 
confer on the individual more control over his environment than he has ever 
been able to exercise. 

It is a future worth awaiting. 

And there is presently no balance 
between man and computer that 
possesses any permanence be¬ 
cause of the changing roles man 
is assigning both to himself and 
to computers. 


I like to think (and 
the sooner the better!) 
of a cybernetic meadow 
where mammals and computers 
live together in mutually 
programming harmony 
like pure water 
touching clear sky. 

I like to think 
(right now, please!) 
of a cybernetic forest 
filled with pines and electronics 
where deer stroll peacefully 
past computers 
as if they were flowers 
with spinning blossoms. 

I like to think 
(it has to be!) 
of a cybernetic ecology 
where we are free of our labors 
and joined back to nature, 
returned to our mammal 
brothers and sisters, 
and all watched over 
by machines of loving grace. 



Present-day computers have a mind- 
amplifying factor of several thousand to 
one. An English mathematician named 
William Shanks spent fifteen years 
calculating the value of pi to 707 
decimal places. Not only was the 
answer incorrect in the last hundred 
places, but today many college 
freshmen could do the same problem in 
a few hours at a computer terminal and 
get the correct answer. 

Aren’t So Smart, 
After All _ 


During the “computer craze’’ of the 
1950s and 1960s some people en¬ 
visioned the machine replacing the 
human brain. It hasn’t happened and, 
says the author, it probably never 
will. So we must still think for ourselves. 

In the late sixties a chess-playing 
computer program was written at 
MIT and was entered into some local 
tournaments, where it won a number 
of games and caught the interest of 
the local newspapers. I had been 
curiously following the portentous 
visions that arose out of articles on 
the “cybernetic revolution” and was 
still unsure what to make of the 
Computer. Since I play chess, this 
new program seemed to offer a 
chance to sample its mysteries 
firsthand. I called some friends at 
MIT, and they arranged for me to 
play MacHack, as the program was 

The room in which the computers 
were kept lacked all signs of diurnal 
rhythm. There were no windows. The 
illumination was low, so as not to 
interfere with the phosphor screens. 
The only sound was the clatter of 
high-speed readout printers, and 
underneath that, the hum of air 
conditioners and circulators. People 
quietly came and went with perfect 
indifference to the hour. I found the 
scene—the rapt and silent meditations 
of the programmers hunched over 
their terminals, the background hum 
with its suggestion of unceasing 
activity, the hushed light, the 
twenty-four-hour schedules—subtly 

I was shown how to code the 
moves and enter them into a ter¬ 
minal. The game itself began with a 
stock opening line: both the com¬ 
puter and I knew the standard chess 
moves, and so far as I could tell, 
to about the same depth. I had 
decided on what I thought would be 
a winning strategy. Any programmer, 

I reasoned, would try to make the 
positions which his program had to 
evaluate simple ones and would 
assign a priority to clarifying ex¬ 
changes. I therefore set out to make 
the position as complex as possible, 
hoping that the machine would lose 
its way among the options and 
commit a common strategic blunder, 
entering into a premature series of 
exchanges that would end only by 
increasing the activity of my pieces. 
Instead, in a flurry of exchanges, I 
lost a pawn and nearly the game. 

The trick of playing with MacHack, I 
learned, is to keep the position free 
from tension. The program's strong 
point is tactics; it places priorities 

on piece mobility and material gain, 
and in the nature of chess these 
values generate local, tactical 

So my strategy was to play 
away from the program's abilities and 
to steer the game into slowpaced, 
stable, balanced positions. Whenever 
I did this, MacHack's game seemed 
to become nervous and moody. The 
program would lose its concentration, 
begin to shift objectives restlessly, 
and launch speculative attacks. This 
is not an unfamiliar style; every 
chess club has some players—they 
are called “romantics''—whose joy is 
found in contact and tension, in 
games where pieces flash across the 
board and unexpected possibilities 
open up with each new move. Put 
them in slow positions, and, like 
MacHack, they grow impatient and 
try to force their game. 

We played no more than five 
times; eventually, beating it became 
too easy. The winning formula was 
mechanically simple: develop cau¬ 
tiously, keep contact between the 
two sides restricted, let the pawns 
lead out the pieces. MacHack would 
always develop in a rush and send its 
knights and bishops skittering about 
the board trying to scare up some 
quick action; denied that action, its 
position would collapse in confusion. 
The only way to lose to MacHack, I 
concluded, would be to play as 
though the dignity of Man somehow 
required one to crush the machine 
in the first dozen moves. If, instead, 
one just played away from it, the 
computer would barrel by and fall in 
a heap. I was far more bored than I 
would have been playing a human 
of similar strength, and I came to 
feel that even if MacHack had been 
good enough to win most, or all, of 
its games I still would have felt I 
was wasting my time. In the middle 
of the nineteenth century, an enter¬ 
prising showman hid a chess-playing 
dwarf in a cabinet and toured 
Europe, claiming that he had in¬ 
vented a chess-playing automaton. 
Large crowds were awed by the 
phony machine. My experience with 
MacHack suggested that the crowds 
must have come not only because 
the “automaton” appeared to be a 
machine but because the dwarf was 
a master, and could consistently 

During the last two games I 
played, MacHack refused to give its 
moves when I was about to check¬ 
mate it. My curiosity was piqued at 
this sullenness, and I stayed, trying 
to wait the machine out and get a 
reply. MacHack just hummed at me. 
Finally a programmer, becoming 
interested in this delay, extracted 
the record of MacHack's delibera¬ 
tions. It had been working over the 
mate variations, just looking at them, 
over and over. "Must be a bug 
somewhere/' the programmer said. 

Every culture has its juvenile 
embarrassments; misdirected en¬ 
thusiasms which fail dramatically 
and in retrospect seem to say some¬ 
thing humiliating about the civiliza¬ 
tion that pursued them. The great 
computer craze of the late fifties 
and the sixties is such a case. From 
the erecting of the machine, any 
number of respected thinkers derived 
a vision of society. Edward Teller 
foresaw an automatic world, ruled 
by machines. Gerard Piel, publisher 
of Scientific American , wrote and 
spoke about the "disemployment of 
the nervous system." C. P. Snow 
thought that automation would be a 
revolution with effects "far more 
intimate in the tone of our daily 
lives . . . than either the agricultural 
transformation in Neolithic times or 
the early industrial revolution." "Is 
the handwriting on the wall for the 
labor movement?" the Wall Street 
Journal asked, looking at the matter 
from its own perspective. ("Their 
membership may dwindle, their strike 
power weaken, and their political 
strength fade. And some of union¬ 
ism's biggest names may be lesser 
names tomorrow.") The Ad Hoc 
Committee for the Triple Revolution 
(weaponry, automation, human 
rights), which was a study group 
composed of social luminaries like 
Gunnar Myrdal, Linus Pauling, A. J. 
Muste, Michael Harrington, Bayard 

Every culture has its juvenile 
embarrassments; misdirected 
enthusiasms which fail dramati¬ 
cally and in retrospect seem to 
say something humiliating about 
the civilization that pursued them. 
The great computer craze of the 
late fifties and the sixties is such 
a case. 

Rustin, Irving Howe, Robert Heil- 
broner, and Tom Hayden and Todd 
Gitlin of SDS, saw the coming of 
automation as an argument for a 
guaranteed minimum income. 

"In twenty years," wrote Donald 
Michaels in a Center for the Study of 
Democratic Institutions book, "most 
of our citizens will be unable to 
understand the cybernated world in 
which we live . . . the problems of 
government will be beyond the ken 
even of our college graduates. Most 
people will have had to recognize 
that, when it comes to logic, the 
machines by and large can think 
better than they. . . . There will be 
a small, almost separate society of 
people in rapport with the advanced 
computers. These cyberneticians will 
have established a relationship with 
their machines that cannot be shared 
with the average man. Those with 
the talent for the work probably will 
have to develop it from childhood 
and will be trained as extensively 
as classical ballerinas." Professor John 
Wilkinson of the University of 
California called for the founding 
of human sanctuaries "as we establish 
refuges for condors and whooping 

The pragmatists among those who 
worried about "America in the 
‘Automic' Age" thought about 
unemployment. The Bureau of Labor 
Statistics estimated that 300,000 
workers were replaced annually by 
machines; the American Foundation 
of Employment and Automation 
calculated that 2 million jobs a year 
vanished. President Kennedy said in 
1962 that adjusting to automation 
was America's greatest domestic 
"challenge" of the sixties, which 
puts his negative prescience quotient 
as high as anyone else's. Harry Van 
Arsdale won the New York electri¬ 
cians a five-hour day, and there was 
strong feeling that this was just a 
beginning. "The only question," said 
George Meany, "is how short the 
work week is to be." 

But there was a visionary wing as 
well, and one which achieved, to 
judge by the number of scare stories 
which ran in the media, remarkable 
impact. Very roughly, two scenarios 
were discernible. The first was that 
automation would proceed at an 
ever accelerating rate until computers 
had eritirely displaced the working 

In twenty years, most of our 
citizens will be unable to under¬ 
stand the cybernated world in 
which we live . . . the problems 
of government will be beyond the 
ken even of our college 

and lower-middle classes. (I find it 
stimulating that Robbie the Robot, 
the famous automaton from the 
movie Forbidden Planet , whose 
capable and compliant nature earned 
him his own TV series, had ebony 
skin.) Those classes, once thrown out 
of work, would mill about in pro¬ 
letarian discontent. Then, depending 
on the perspective of the seer, they 
would either sponsor a revolution 
themselves or force a revolutionary 
response from the established order. 
Andrew Hacker of Cornell warned 
about "the contraction of the 
corporate constituency" and pre¬ 
dicted a Luddite rampage. Margaret 
Mead proposed protecting by law 
certain jobs, "dustman, the night 
watchman, the postman." She was 
particularly worried about the 
problem of the lowest intelligence 
"brackets," and did not, at least for 
this class, favor a minimum income: 

"I am not sure whether good pay in 
idleness would be a very healthy 
thing just for the least intelligent, 
who are least able to make good use 
of their leisure." This scenario 
concluded with the feeling that if 
America did, by one route or the 
other, successfully manage its entry 
into "The Age of Abundance," the 
result would be a classless world in 
which all lived in a leisurely upper- 
middle-class style, devoting them¬ 
selves to the arts and public 

The other line of thought, often 
found in journals like Argosy , Na¬ 
tional Enquirer , and Popular 
Mechanics , was that the new brain 
machines would displace the upper- 
middle class. The writers who held 
this second view were impressed with 
the machine's potential for autonomy 
and its inscrutable authoritativeness. 
("Harvard Computer Finds English 
Language Fuzzy"— Science Digest.) 
While it was not clear that unem¬ 
ployment would be a problem 
("Wanted: 500,000 Men to Feed 
Computers"— Popular Science) , what 

did emerge was the feeling that 
everyone would be forced, by the 
unappealability of the computer's 
decisions, into the essence of the 
lower-middle-class experience, which 
is to be ordered about by those "who 
know what they're doing." 

Nearly fifteen years have passed 
since these specters first became 
popular, and clearly we are no further 
down either of these roads; instead, 
there has been a perceptible loss of 
conviction that we are on any road at 
all. The rates of increase in produc¬ 
tivity per man-hour, one of the 
classic measurements of automation, 
were no different in the sixties than 
in the fifties, though nearly 200,000 
computers were installed during the 
last decade. Unemployment has held 
roughly stable. Computers have 
assumed a number of functions, some 
of which have been historically 
white-collar jobs: reservations, credit 
and billing, processing checks, payroll 
operations, inventory scheduling; and 
some blue-collar: freight routing, 
and especially flow monitoring and 
process control in the metallurgical, 
petrochemical, paper, and feed 
industries. But while what the com¬ 
puters do is important, it certainly 
does not appear to add up to a 
revolution. If computers posed, and 
pose, a threat it lies not in rendering 
less significant those decisions humans 
make but, as in the privacy issue, in 
enlarging the impact of, and the 
opportunities for, the staple villainies 
of the Old Adam. 

Why were so many illustrious 
thinkers so wrong? Or, perhaps 
simpler, why have we been so reluc¬ 
tant to learn from their mistakes? 
"Latest Machines See, Hear, Speak 
and Sing—And May Out-think Man" 
is the headline of a Wall Street 
Journal story that appeared in June, 
1973, but it could as easily have 
been the head on any number of 
stories over the last fifteen years. 

What is striking about these 
stories is the determination of their 
authors to believe. They seem never 
to notice the highly artificial environ¬ 
ments or the extremely simplified 
nature of the problems which allow 
the computer programs they describe 
to show even the modest success they 
have to date. Do the authors ever ask 
why it is that assembly line jobs, 
whose tediousness made them famous 

targets of opportunity for computers, 
remain virtually untouched by 
automated hands? 

The vatic winds which blew some 
fifteen years ago were more compre¬ 
hensible: America had just emerged 
from the fifties, an extraordinary 
decade. Never before had we de¬ 
lighted in such a rain of innovations 
with such an immediate and intimate 
effect on our daily lives. Television 
took root everywhere. The Polaroid 
camera, the Aqualung, the transistor 
radio, and the birth-control pill came 
on the market. The hi-fi and stereo 
industry sprang up. Commercial jet 
travel became standard. Polio was 
controlled. The hydrogen bomb, the 
ICBM, space satellites, and the com¬ 
puter all were significant public 
issues, altering patterns of discourse 
and attention if nothing else. Xerox 
brought out its first office copier in 
1959; the first working model of the 
laser was announced in 1960. 

We took these inventions, some 
boon, some bane, as evidence that a 
high level of innovation was a settled 
feature of America, and assumed that 
that level would, if anything, rise 
still higher over the decades to come. 
In that atmosphere no technological 
achievement seemed beyond us and 
no forecast too fantastic. It was 
felt only realistic to advance bold 

Actually, one promise of the 
"soaring sixties" came spectacularly 
true—the moon-landing program. But 
it came to seem increasingly anom¬ 
alous, not representative of our 
national direction, certainly not 
emblematic of our national mood. 
The sixties was a decade in which 
apprehensions about the effects of 
technology became widespread, and 
glittering inventions ceased to 
enhance our daily lives. Indeed, aside 
from the pocket calculator, the intro¬ 
duction of new products has fallen 
off drastically in the last ten years. 
The promise of robotics is not the 
only promise unkept. Cancer and the 
common cold have not been cured; 
nuclear power through fusion seems 
more distant than ever. Cheap 
desalinization has not been achieved. 
One of the pioneering computers, 
ENIAC, built by Eckert and 
Mauchly, was invented in the hope 
that it would facilitate long-range 
weather forecasting. Almost certainly 

John Mauchly thought he was closer 
to that goal in 1943 than meteorol¬ 
ogists do today. 

The persistence of the belief that 
machine intelligence is within our 
grasp thus becomes all the more 
curious, since it can draw support 
from neither specific achievements 
nor the general pace of the nation's 
technology. It has been a costly faith. 
To point to only one example, $20 
million was spent by the CIA, the 
Department of Defense, and other 
government agencies on automatic 
language translation until 1966, when 
a review committee of the National 
Academy of Sciences concluded that 
the prospect of readable translations 
seemed to be receding in proportion 
to the money spent on it. 

The effort to get machines to 
learn, see, hear, deduce, and intuit— 
to achieve what is called "Artificial 
Intelligence," or AI—has received 
little popular attention, presumably, 
at least in part, because of this 
conviction that AI is already a fact. 
Who, except for the handful of 
professionals involved, has even a 
vague sense of why artificial intelli¬ 
gence has proven to be so difficult a 
task, what the problems are, how 
they are being attacked, and what 
theories have been proposed and 
abandoned? It seems bizarre that in a 
culture as interested in psychology 
and intelligence as ours the questions 
that have occupied this small com¬ 
munity have been so widely ignored. 
AI researchers are, in a sense, applied 
epistemologists and are attacking 
problems which can have consider¬ 
able public interest, as Piaget, 
Chomsky, and Skinner, to mention 
only three names, have shown. 

The approach of an AI researcher 
is different from that of a philoso¬ 
pher or theoretical psychologist, of 
course. The point of traditional 
scientific theory is to account for 
the evidence with a concise structural 
metaphor. If this metaphor succeeds 
in explaining a wide range of observa¬ 
tions coherently and economically, it 
is accepted, even if its "real" basis, its 
actual neurophysiology, remains 
obscure. AI scientists, on the other 
hand, try to build devices which will 
produce some of the behaviors they 
are interested in. The working as¬ 
sumption is that they will eventually 
arrive at an understanding of intelli- 

gence no less meaningful than that 
reached through more traditional 

The popular assumption was 
rather more simple. It seems to have 
been that the potential of the ma¬ 
chine is within the physical device, as 
the potential for speaking is in 
humans, and that it is just a matter 
of learning how to get it going. The 
actual program—the software—is 
understood, if, indeed, it is thought 
of at all, as bearing the same sort of 
relation to computer operations that 
cake recipes do to cooks: a guide to 
the energy and manipulative imagina¬ 
tion of an essentially autonomous 
actor. The U.S. Patent Office has 
justified its refusal to patent software 
by insisting that a program is a 
"technique/' "a mental process," 
and/or an "idea." The only kind of 
program the Patent Office will patent 
is one that has been "wired-in," built 
as the core of a special-purpose com¬ 
puter that will perform that func¬ 
tion and no other. But if the same 
program is not embodied in a 
mechanical device, if it is written as 
one of a large number of programs, 
to be entered into a general-purpose 
computer capable of handling any of 
them, it is not patentable, for it 
then becomes an "idea." This reason¬ 
ing, that programs are to computers 
what ideas are to human brains, is 
absurd to those who work with the 

The tendency to concentrate on 
hardware abilities, on the machine's 
memory and speed, emerged with the 
first computers. An early MIT 
research computer, for instance, to 
which a TV special and a New 
Yorker column were devoted, was 
dubbed "The Whirlwind." 

That this emphasis arose was 
natural enough. What computers did 
and do—manipulate a very carefully 
defined body of information through 
a narrow range of arithmetic tech¬ 
niques—is unlikely to be very interest¬ 
ing. But their style, their tirelessness 
and infallibility, was interesting and 
the stress laid upon these qualities 
turned them into a cultural phenom¬ 
enon. This was true, one speculates, 
because speed and memory, with 
freedom from error, are the same 
features humans conventionally use 
in identifying what they call intelli¬ 
gence. When someone is referred to 

as having "brains," it usually means 
that he is never caught in a mistake. 
It means that he has a memory that 
absorbs quickly and voluminously, 
that he can solve complicated math 
problems in his head. It certainly 
means speed; if a person finds himself 
in the company of those who think 
consistently faster than he does, that 
difference is usually taken as one that 
reflects on his mind as a whole. 

These qualities are what weigh with 
those who send for correspondence 
courses that promise ten ways to in¬ 
crease brain power. And they count 
no less at higher levels of society. 
During Robert McNamara's tenure 
as Secretary of Defense, his 
many admirers in the press and Con¬ 
gress would often volunteer their 
observation that his mind was so 
awe-inspiring as to be almost 

In retrospect one can see several 
other reasons why computers were 
bound to become totems. Decision¬ 
makers in a democratic society are 
forever restive with the convention 
that their decisions should not appear 
to be blatantly self-seeking. Now 
they could use the computer as a 
kind of Mexican bank—for decisions 
wherein judgments could appear to 
have been laundered, or more 

specifically, bleached, of self-interest 
and arbitrariness. 

This "bleaching" effect can, and 
often does, allow an increase in 
arbitrariness. One example: the Board 
of the National Endowment for the 
Arts has a number of curators on it; 
curators have a constant headache 
with artists complaining about the 
company which their pictures have 
been made to keep. The National 
Endowment accordingly funds studies 
in which artists are asked near whose 
pictures they would like their paint¬ 
ings to hang. A matrix analysis is 
done on the preferences and returned 
to the exhibitors, who hang the 
paintings by the numbers—with what 
aesthetic results I cannot imagine— 
and then successfully deflect the 
inevitable outrage of the painters 
onto the computer. . . . 

MIT hopes within five years to 
have developed an electronic repair¬ 
man that can assemble, inspect, 
maintain, and repair electronic equip¬ 
ment. Stanford University has been 
doing a lot of work on manipulation 
and coordinating vision and tactile 
systems, and is moving rapidly toward 
automatic building and assembling 
machines. Natural language compre¬ 
hension, wherein a human can con¬ 
verse with a computer in everyday 

“O.K., smarly, here's one for you: the square root of 7,215,635 times 
the cube root of 89,471,293.0067 divided by . . 

Drawing by Stevenson; © 1965 The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. 

The biggest single need in com¬ 
puter technology is not for 
improved circuitry, or enlarged 
capacity, or prolonged memory, or 
miniaturized containers, but for 
better questions and better use of 
the answers. 

English, has been showing especially 
dramatic progress in recent years and 
there are some showpiece programs 
which work slowly but well. A num¬ 
ber of private companies, particularly 
the Xerox Corporation, are increasing 
their support of their own research 

So it is at least possible that, 
sometime during the 1980s, we will 
see the gradual introduction of pro¬ 
grams, which, whether or not we call 
them intelligent, will be able to react 
reasonably to significantly compli¬ 
cated situations. If we are to learn 
anything at all from the history of 
computers in America, it ought to be 
extreme care in predicting what 
computers will mean to the society 
and the culture. There are some 
general observations that might be 
pertinent. The first is that these 
programs are extremely complex and 
therefore expensive. Even the 
simplest takes man-years to write, 
and they must be specifically tailored 
to particular environments. Their 
introduction will therefore be ex¬ 
tremely slow. It is unlikely that any 
analogue will exist to the payroll 
programs of the fifties which could 
flash through whole groups of indus¬ 
tries in a single year. Second, if we 
were underprepared for the first 
wave of automation, we are, if 
anything, overprepared for the 
second. Much of the public believes 
that computers already possess 
powers that, even by the most 
optimistic forecast, they will not 
have until well into the next century. 
New achievements are therefore more 
likely to be greeted with a shrug than 
with any sense of heightened signifi¬ 
cance. Third, one cannot be sure to 
what extent the sheer physical and 
financial scale of the machines of the 
fifties contributed to the frenzy that 
surrounded them, but it seems worth 
nothing that the price of hardware 
is falling precipitously, and appears 
certain to continue to do so. It has 

been estimated that the entire world 
stock of computers, with an original 
purchase price of $25 billion, could 
be replaced today for one billion 
dollars. The comparative value of 
human labor involved in installations 
is rising correspondingly. Ten years 
ago programming accounted for one 
fifth of the cost of an average instal¬ 
lation; by the end of this decade it 
will be four fifths. 

For all these reasons it seems 
unlikely that these new programs will 
revive our concern about machines 
"taking over" to the intensity of the 
early sixties, though there is one 
important counterpoint to be made. 
These programs could enormously 

increase the surveillance powers of 
governments. Right now research into 
face- and speech-recognition programs 
is proceeding very slowly, but if they 
are achieved, governments will be 
able to monitor hundreds of thou¬ 
sands of phone conversations simul¬ 
taneously, or automatically compile 
dossiers on the routines of large 
numbers of its citizens. In such a 
society one might well feel that 
machines had indeed taken over. 

Ironically, the success of the 
artificial-intelligence scientists may 
end in their losing their running 
battle with the "vitalists." The con¬ 
fusion over machine intelligence 
arose only because the word sprawls 

The Computer and the Poet 


The essential problem of man in a computerized age remains the same 
as it has always been. That problem is not solely how to be more 
productive, more comfortable, more content, but how to be more sensitive, 
more sensible, more proportionate, more alive. The computer makes possible 
a phenomenal leap in human proficiency; it demolishes the fences 
around the practical and even the theoretical intelligence. But the 
question persists and indeed grows whether the computer will make 
it easier or harder for human beings to know who they really are, 
to identify their real problems, to respond more fully to beauty, to place 
adequate value on life, and to make their world safer than it now is. 

Electronic brains can reduce the profusion of dead ends involved in vital 
research. But they can't eliminate the foolishness and decay 
that come from the unexamined life. Nor do they connect a man 
to the things he has to be connected to—the reality of pain in 
others; the possibilities of creative growth in himself; the 
memory of the race; and the rights of the next generation. 

The reason these matters are important in a computerized age is 
that there may be a tendency to mistake data for wisdom, just as 
there has always been a tendency to confuse logic with values, and 
intelligence with insight. Unobstructed access to facts can produce 
unlimited good only if it is matched by the desire and ability to find 
out what they mean and where they would lead. 

Facts are terrible things if left sprawling and unattended. They are 
too easily regarded as evaluated certainties rather than as the rawest 
of raw materials crying to be processed into the texture of logic. It requires 
a very unusual mind, Whitehead said, to undertake the analysis of a 
fact. The computer can provide a correct number, but it may be an irrele¬ 
vant number until judgment is pronounced. 

To the extent, then, that man fails to make the distinction between the 
intermediate operations of electronic intelligence and the ultimate responsibili¬ 
ties of human decision and conscience, the computer could prove a digression. 

It could obscure man's awareness of the need to come to terms with himself. It 
may foster the illusion that he is asking fundamental questions when actually 
he is asking only functional ones. It may be regarded as a substitute for intelli¬ 
gence instead of an extension of it. It may promote undue confidence in 
concrete answers. "If we begin with certainties," Bacon said, "we shall 

over so many activities. Whether or 
not one believed that constructing 
geometric proofs was an intelligent 
activity in itself or merely expressed 
an intelligence which fundamentally 
resided at some deeper level, one had 
to believe that it was legitimate to 
involve the word in the first place. 
The same assumption can be said to 
be true of such primitive abilities as 
thinking fast, or possessing an accu¬ 
rate memory. 

But it seems clear that, over the 
long run, when activities become 
mechanized, they lose status. This 
is an ancient dynamic, long antedat¬ 
ing computers. Before the camera 
was invented, perfect reproduction of 

nature was thought a noble objective 
in painting, if not indeed the only 
proper end. When the camera was 
able to make this ideal routinely 
available, everyone grew bored and 
went off to do other things (though 
it might be mentioned, not before 
both Sam Morse and Nathaniel 
Hawthorne had written that surely 
the camera would leave artists with 
naught but a purely historical life). 
The telegraph companies inherited 
none of the romance which attached 
to the riders of the Pony Express. 
Routing, the planning of the most 
cost-effective truck and freight-car 
routes, was once a respected job 
that was thought to require judg¬ 

end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and we are patient with 
them, we shall end in certainties." 

The computer knows how to vanquish error, but before we lose 
ourselves in celebration of the victory, we might reflect on the great 
advances in the human situation that have come about because 
men were challenged by error and would not stop thinking and probing 
until they found better approaches for dealing with it. “Give me a 
good fruitful error, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections," Ferris 
Greenslet wrote. “You can keep your sterile truth for yourself." 

The biggest single need in computer technology is not for improved 
circuitry, or enlarged capacity, or prolonged memory, or miniaturized 
containers but for better questions and better use of the answers. Without 
taking anything away from the technicians, we think it might be fruitful to 
effect some sort of junction between the computer technologist and the poet. 
A genuine purpose may be served by turning loose the wonders of the creative 
imagination on the kinds of problems being put to electronic tubes and tran¬ 
sistors. The company of poets may enable the men who tend the machines to 
see a larger panorama of possibilities than technology alone may inspire. 

A poet, said Aristotle, has the advantage of expressing the uni¬ 
versal; the specialist expresses only the particular. The poet, moreover, 
can remind us that man's greatest energy comes not from his dynamos 
but from his dreams. The notion of where a man ought to be 
instead of where he is; the liberation from cramped prospects; the 
intimations of immortality through art-all these proceed naturally 
out of dreams. But the quality of a man's dreams can only be a reflection 
of his subconscious. What he puts into his subconscious, there¬ 
fore, is quite literally the most important nourishment in the world. 

Nothing really happens to a man except as it is registered in the 
subconscious. This is where event and feeling become memory and 
where the proof of life is stored. The poet—and we use the term 
to include all those who have respect for and speak to the 
human spirit—can help to supply the subconscious with material 
to enhance its sensitivity, thus safeguarding it. The poet, too, can 
help to keep man from making himself over in the image of his 
electronic marvels. For the danger is not so much that man will 
be controlled by the computer as that he may imitate it. 

The poet reminds men of their uniqueness. It is not necessary to 
possess the ultimate definition of this uniqueness. Even to speculate on 
it is a gain. 

ment, skill, and experience. That 
function is now done by computers 
and has been for the last ten years, 
and I would guess that in all that 
time not two people in the trans¬ 
portation industries have thought 
seriously about the computer's 
showing “skill" and “judgment." 
Indeed, it seems probable that the 
computer has had at least a part in 
the developing conviction expressed 
most explicitly by, but hardly con¬ 
fined to, the “counterculture," that 
logical, sequential, cause-and-effect 
reasoning is not only an undistin¬ 
guished but even a disreputable 

Some of the activities that are 
important to us and our sense of 
being human could, can, and might 
be programmed; others cannot. To 
take the extreme case, there simply is 
no serious sense in which one can 
talk about a computer program 
praying or loving. If it continues to 
be true that to mechanize an activity 
is precisely to divest it of its maria, 
to cause humans to withdraw from it 
emotionally, then the impact of 
these programs, at least culturally, 
will be to refine our ideas of human 
intelligence, to cause those ideas 
to recede, or advance, into the 
subjective, affective, expressive regions 
of our nature. If this happens, we 
might lose interest in the whole issue 
of whether machines can “outthink" 
man, and the use of the term “intel¬ 
ligence" by AI researchers may come 
to seem increasingly anachronistic 
and inappropriate the more successful 
they are. 

The Development 
of Automatic 


University of California, Santa Cruz, California 

1. In the Beginning . . . 

Counting must be a natural action 
of thinking man. With counting 
comes the need for computational 
aids. Numerous writers say that 
fingers led man to the decimal sys¬ 
tem*, that fingers and feet led to the 
duodecimal (12) system, and that 
fingers and toes led to the base-20 
(Mayan) system. This line of reason¬ 
ing does not explain the base-60 
system used by Ptolemy [1, v. 14, p. 
1094], and even earlier by the 
Babylonians [2]. 

Just when physical appendages 
became insufficient and man manipu¬ 
lated groups of pebbles is lost in 
antiquity. Beads on rods or slots in a 
frame (an abacus) was a natural step, 
and early examples have been found 
in the Tigris-Euphrates valley dating 
approximately 5000 years ago. 

In Japan the abacus was first 
known as the sangi or sanchu. By 
the sixteenth century a somewhat 
modified version came into wide¬ 
spread use called the soroban. Each 
digit position had two groups of 
beads (5 to represent zero to five; 
and 2 to represent zero, five or ten; 
with combinations representing zero 
to nine). This is intriguingly similar 
to the bi-quinary coding of decimal 
digits used in relay computers (see 
section 5). 

The Romans may have delayed 
the development of computing with 
the invention of their number 
system. Gerbert (tenth century, later 
Pope Silvester II), studying in Spain, 
learned of the Arabic number system 
and of a “calculating machine" made 
by the Moors. This calculating ma¬ 
chine seems to have been a type of 
abacus which Gerbert later introduced 
into the rest of Western Europe. 

Quiet then prevailed until the 
seventeenth century. John Napier 
invented logarithms and constructed 
“Napier's Bones" which enabled one 
to do multiplications. Oughtred of 
England inscribed these logarithms 
on strips of wood or ivory, giving 
us the slide rule (which is an analog 
computing device, since amounts are 
represented by lengths on the rule). 

Blaise Pascal invented the fore- 

*There are claims of origin of the decimal digits 
among the Arabs, Persians, Egyptians, and the 
Hindus. However, the earliest incidence of the use of 
present-day numeral forms seems to be in India [1, 
v. 16, p. 759]. 

runner of the modern desk calculator 
(about 1642). This device was digital, 
each digit being represented by the 
position of a wheel. When a given 
wheel moved through zero, a rachet 
device advanced the next higher-order 
wheel one position. This device 
brought Pascal fame, but little 
money. Most interestingly, it caused 
ripples of concern about unemploy¬ 
ment as do computers in today's 

Gottfried Leibnitz (about 1694) 
built a machine that could multiply 
as well as add. 

The early eighteenth century was 
another period of quiet. J. H. Muller, 
late in the century, conceived of 
an automatic computer, but there is 
doubt whether a model was built 
[3, p. 58 and 4, p. 48]. In 1797, 
Charles Mahon, third Earl of Stan¬ 
hope, invented two calculating 
machines [3, pp. 59-63 and 1, v. 21, 
p. 114]. One of these made ingenious 
use of gear wheels and a tens-carrying 
device. This century also saw, as 
described below, ingenious develop¬ 
ments in the weaving industry which 
later would be essential in computer 

The early nineteenth century saw 
the conception by Charles Babbage 
of the first automatic computing 
machine. According to Babbage's own 
account, while a student at Cam¬ 
bridge, he was sitting with a table of 
logarithms open before him. A pass¬ 
ing friend called out “Well, Babbage, 
what are you dreaming about?" He 
replied, “I am thinking that all these 
Tables might be calculated by 
machinery." He was about twenty at 
the time (1812). [5, p. 42] 

2. The Punched Card 

Computers have borrowed devices 
from many activities. Perhaps the 
earliest developments still explicitly 
present in most computer systems 
today are punched paper tape. These 
came from the weaving industry. The 
earliest mechanization of weaving 
probably goes back to the Far East, 
and was imported into Italy in the 
Middle Ages. Further mechanization 
of weaving occurred, primarily in 
France. In 1725, Basile Bouchon [1, 
v. 23, p. 347] added a continuous 
belt of perforated paper which 
selected the warp—controlling cards 
for the pattern. A series of needles 

in a box were pressed against a por¬ 
tion of the paper. Where there were 
holes the needles would penetrate 
the paper and the corresponding 
threads would move, determining the 
pattern being woven. Thus, the 
first punched paper tape with a 
“stored” program was invented. 

In 1728 Falcon increased the 
number of cards that could be con¬ 
trolled and used a perforated card in 
place of the tape. In 1745 Jacques de 
Vaucanson used the ideas of both 
Bouchon and Falcon to build a very 
complex loom. Perhaps because of its 
complexity, it enjoyed little success. 

It took Joseph Jacquard to perfect 
the mechanism, and in 1801 in 
Paris he exhibited a punched-card 
controlled loom which became a 
sensational success. 

3. Charles Babbage 

Babbage himself visited France to see 
this loom, and purchased a woven 
copy of Jacquard's portrait and 
presented it to the Queen of 
Sardinia. [5, p. 307]. Strangely 
enough, Babbage gives no indication 
of being aware of Leibnitz's earlier 
calculator, although he was very 
much impressed by Leibnitz's nota¬ 
tion and even decided to translate a 
work of Loeroix in order to bring this 
notation to the attention of the 
English world. 

He makes no explicit mention of 
Muller's or Mahon's work, but he 
does talk of examining many ma¬ 
chines [5, p. 41] and finding them 
inadequate, particularly with respect 
to multiplication and division. 

Babbage's design of the first of his 
machines, the Difference Engine, was 
completed in 1822. It was designed 
to compute navigational tables. The 
British government, in response to a 
letter from Babbage, asked the Royal 
Society to evaluate his proposal to 
build such a machine. The Royal 
Society gave his proposal a favorable 
report, stating that they considered 
“Mr. Babbage as highly deserving of 
public encouragement in the prosecu¬ 
tion of his arduous undertaking.'' 
Subsequently Parliament granted him 
£1500 “to enable him to bring his 
invention to perfection, in the 
manner recommended.'' [5, pp. 

68-71]. A “much larger and more 
perfect engine'' than his first design 
was commenced in 1823 for the 

government. [A small portion of this 
machine was placed in the Inter¬ 
national Exhibition of 1862. An 
elaborate description of the machine 
was published by Dr. Lardner in the 
Edinburgh Review in 1834, and two 
persons, one in London and the 
other in Sweden, subsequently 
constructed models of it.) [5, p. 47] 

Even though Babbage over the 
next ten years devoted much time 
and effort and a large share of his 
inheritance, and the British govern¬ 
ment contributed much more money, 
the machine was never completed. 
Babbage was Simply ahead of his 
time. Every part needed had to be 
manually constructed, and often 
machine tools to make the parts had 
to be made first. 

Despite this failure to get a work¬ 
ing model, the indomitable Babbage 
went on to devise an even more 
ambitious machine—an automatic, 
general-purpose computer called the 
Analytical Engine. It used punched 
cards for input and mechanical 
wheels for computation. This is 
briefly described in a letter communi¬ 
cated to the Royal Academy of 
Sciences at Brussels in May, 1835. 

[6, p. 5], 

This computer had a structure 
functionally analogous to modern 
computers. It had a memory in which 
numbers were stored (called a 
“store”). It had an arithmetic unit 
called a “mill.” [5, p. 117] Input of 
data and program information was 

from punched cards. Output was by 
printing or by punching cards. [5, 
p. 121]. The arithmetic unit could do 
the four basic operations of addition, 
subtraction, multiplication, and 
division. The operation of discrimina¬ 
tion could be performed, wherein the 
computational process could be 
changed depending on the sign of 
computed results. [5, p. 134]. 

Babbage did not conceive of 
instructions being stored in the same 
wheels that stored digits. Therefore 
his analytical engine is properly 
called a card-programmed general- 
purpose automatic computer. 

In 1840 Babbage lectured in Turin 
about his analytical engine. [5, p. 

129]. There, General M. Menabrea 
wrote a “lucid” description of the 
Analytical Engine which was pub¬ 
lished in the Bibliotheque Universelle 
de Geneve (No. 82) in October of 
1842. This article was translated by 
Ada Augusta, Countess Lovelace, the 
daughter of the poet, Lord Byron. 

On reading her translation, Babbage 
expressed his appreciation, but 
asked why she hadn't done any 
original work instead. Lady Lovelace 
replied that it hadn't occurred to her, 
and she then set about adding notes 
to the article. Her annotated transla¬ 
tion is the best account of Babbage's 
machine available and establishes 
Lady Lovelace herself as a mathe¬ 
matician of some ability. 

The Countess Lovelace talks of 
cycles of operations [6, p. 41] and 



repeated use of cards in structures 
analogous to present-day subroutines. 
Complexity of the card structures 
were no worry, because she speaks of 
the woven portrait of Jacquard re¬ 
quiring 24,000 cards [6, p. 42]. She 
also talks of non-numerical computa¬ 
tion such as composition of "elab¬ 
orate and scientific pieces of music" 

[6, p. 23], and manipulation of sym¬ 
bolic quantities. She notes that the 
analytical engine cannot "originate 
anything;" it can only do what "we 
know how to order it to perform." [6, 
P . 44], 

4. More Punched Cards 

A next significant step was the use of 
punched cards by Herman Hollerith 
at the United States Census Bureau 
to mechanize census data processing 
for the 1890 census. Hollerith 
examined Jacquard's machine and 
developed a machine of his own to 
record, compile, and tabulate census 
information recorded on punched 
cards. With his machine the informa¬ 
tion on 62 million people was 
tabulated in two years, instead of 7.5 
years for 50 million as in 1880. [3, 

P . in]. 

5. Digital Computer Developments 

Developments were going on in many 
areas which would contribute later to 
the invention and utilization of a 
new type of computing equipment. 

In the United States, Edward 
Condon filed a patent covering the 
use of binary numbers for computing 
and designed a machine to play Nim. 
Special-purpose digital computers 
were being constructed, such as 

Derrick Lehmer's number sieve 
exhibited at the Chicago World's 
Fair in 1935. 

About 1937 George Stibitz [4, p. 
53] at Bell Telephone Laboratories 
and Howard Aiken at Harvard 
University both started work, inde¬ 
pendently of each other, on sequen¬ 
tially operated automatic digital 
computers. In 1939 Aiken was able to 
interest IBM in his plan, and five 
years later in 1944 the Automatic 
Sequence Controlled Calculator, 

Mark I, was announced to the public. 
Aiken, sometime after he started 
working on computers, discovered 
Babbage's previous work and called 
his machine "Babbage's dream come 

Meanwhile, in September 1940 at 
a meeting of the American Mathe¬ 
matical Society, a computer for 
complex numbers was demonstrated 
which had been designed by George 
Stibitz and built at Bell Telephone 
Laboratories under the direction of 
Samuel Williams. This was followed 
by other machines built by Bell 
Telephone Laboratories, culminating 
in Model VI Relay Computers. 

Developments were also being 
carried on by Zuse and others in 

Babbage's Analytical Engine, the 
Harvard Mark I and Mark II com¬ 
puters, the Bell Telephone Relay 
Computers (Models I to VI) [19, p. 
28], and finally the IBM Selective 
Sequence Electronic Computer 
(demonstrated in January 1948) all 
constitute a long line of punched- 
tape or punched-card programmed 

6. The First Electronic Computer 

The first really significant step in 
electronic computing devices was the 
development of the Electronic 
Numerical Integrator and Computer 
(ENIAC) at the University of Penn¬ 
sylvania during 1943-46. 

The full development of an idea 
or device requires not only the birth 
of the initial concept, but also the 
existence of the need for the device 
(i.e., a problem to be solved) and, in 
addition, the existence of a means to 
accomplish the realization of the 
idea. Thus Babbage's efforts failed 
even though there was a need (navi¬ 
gational tables), because means for 

making the required devices were not 
available (lack of precision machining 

By 1943 the United States was 
deeply involved in World War II. 
Aberdeen Proving Ground was having 
difficulty in providing firing tables for 
new weapons. There is no question 
about the existence of the need. 

The development of electronic 
computers required an electronic 
means of storing information (flip- 
flops), electronic means of controlling 
the flow of information (gates), and, 
of course, electronic amplification. It 
was also necessary to interface 
such devices with the human user by, 
for example, accepting input derived 
from keyboards and by producing 
printed output. 

Due to the prior developments in 
the data-processing industry, the 
last problem could be solved by inter¬ 
facing the electronic circuits with 
punched-card devices. 

The electronic flipflop had been 
developed in 1919 by Eccles and 
Jordan [8]. The development of radar 
during World War II provided 
pulse circuits and electronic switching 
elements. Thus, by 1943 all the 
required means were present to 
design and build an electronic 

Sometime in 1942 John Mauchly 
of the Moore School (Electrical 
Engineering) staff of the University 
of Pennsylvania prepared a memo 
entitled, "The Use of High Speed 
Vacuum Tube Devices for Calculat¬ 
ing," which later came to be called 
the "Report on an Electronic Dif¬ 
ference Analyzer." This memo had 
been written as the result of many 
conversations between Mauchly and 
J. Presper Eckert, who was an 
engineer working on Moore School 
projects. Although Mauchly had had 
some experience with electronic 
circuits it was Eckert who was the 
"engineer." The memo was sub¬ 
mitted to Professor John Brainerd 
who served as the university's liaison 
with the Ballistic Research Labora¬ 
tory at Aberdeen Proving Ground. 

The Moore School had built a 
differential analyzer similar to the 
one that had been invented at 
M.I.T. by Vannevar Bush. By 1942 
this differential analyzer was being 
used to compute firing tables. In 

addition, young women used desk 
calculators for this purpose, both at 
the Ballistic Laboratory at Aberdeen 
and at the University of Pennsyl¬ 
vania. Still the Armed Forces were 
having great difficulty keeping up 
with the computing demand. Thus, 
they were very receptive when the 
memo prepared by Mauchly was 
presented to them. 

Also instrumental in the quick 
acceptance was Captain Herman 
Goldstine, who had been assigned by 
the Army to be in charge of the 
relationship between the Ballistic 
Research Laboratory and the 
University of Pennsylvania. Captain 
Goldstine was shown the memo early 
in the spring of 1943, and subse¬ 
quently discussed it with his superior, 
Colonel Paul Gillon. Both men felt 
that it was an exciting proposal, and 
they asked the university to prepare 
a formal proposal to the Ballistic 
Research Laboratory for the develop¬ 
ment of a computer based on it. This 
was hastily done. Things happened 
very quickly after that, and with 
seemingly little red tape. There was 
an informal meeting in Washington, 
D.C., where it was decided that the 
proposal should be presented to 
Colonel Leslie Simon, then director 
of the Ballistic Laboratory, and to 
Dr. Veblen, a well-known mathemati¬ 
cian and their chief scientist. 

This historic meeting took place 
early in April 1943. Brainerd, Gold¬ 
stine, Eckert, and Mauchly journeyed 
from Philadelphia to Aberdeen. 

There Eckert and Mauchly were 
taken on a tour of the laboratory 
while the meeting took place. In a 
short time it was evident that the 
Moore School had been granted the 
contract. (In fact, this decision had 
probably been arrived at previously 
at an internal Armed Forces meet¬ 
ing.) In actuality, other approvals 
had to be obtained after the April 
meeting, but the real decision had 
been made. 

In this way, with very little hesita¬ 
tion and delay, because of the knowl¬ 
edge and foresight of the scientists 
involved, and probably most im¬ 
portant, because it was backed by 
the urgent war time need for a 
faster computing device, the Armed 
Forces agreed to finance a project 
which was actually supported only by 

a rather sparsely and hastily written 
proposal. (Quite a contrast to 
Babbage's continued and often fruit¬ 
less efforts to get government support 
for constructing his computer.) 

The Moore School immediately 
moved people working on other 
projects to this new project, which 
came to be known as ENIAC. The 
first contract was purely for develop¬ 
ment and was to proceed until 
December 31, 1943, with $61,700 
being initially granted. The contract 
was later amended twelve or thirteen 
times, with the time being extended 
and more money committed. 

In an initial “feasibility phase" 
for the ENIAC project, two accu¬ 
mulators (electronic analogs of desk 
calculators) were constructed. These 
could be interconnected so as to 
generate sines and cosines. Each 
could additively or subtractively 
transmit its contents, and each could 
accept such a transmission resulting 
in a sum or difference. 

Much of the early work involved 
studying how to store decimal num¬ 
bers reliably, and how to control 
the transmission of signals from one 
circuit to another in a reliable way 
(i.e., in such a manner that com¬ 
ponents could age and the transmis¬ 

sion would still remain dependable 
and noise-free). 

For reliability, circuits were 
constructed from rigidly tested 
standard components which were 
used at substantially less than their 
normal ratings. Signals were binary 
in character, either being on (high) 
or off (low). The low input to a 
vacuum was essentially twice below 
cutoff (that is, twice below that 
potential where insignificant current 
flows). The high signals drove the 
grids somewhat positive, so that the 
grid-current would reduce the suscep¬ 
tibility to noise and would permit 
degradation of components without 
failure of performance. [9, p. 757]. 
More than one visitor to Philadel¬ 
phia, with the average vacuum-tube 
life of 2000 hours in mind, stated 
that the 18,000 tube ENIAC would 
probably run for less than twenty 
minutes without failure. 

The people on the ENIAC project 
worked cooperatively and enthusias¬ 
tically. There was the feeling that 
here was an exciting breakthrough. 
Several well-known mathematicians 
became very interested in ENIAC. 
Chief among these was Dr. John 
von Neumann, who was a consultant 
for the Aberdeen facility and the 


Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. By 
chance he and Herman Goldstine 
had met on a railroad platform in 
the autumn of 1944, while waiting 
for a train to go from Aberdeen to 
Philadelphia. In answer to von 
Neumann's polite inquiry as to the 
type of work he was doing, Goldstine 
told him about the ENIAC project. 
Von Neumann was at once very 
interested, and soon afterwards 
visited the project. Subsequently he 
arranged for mathematicians working 
on the Los Alamos project (chiefly 
Stanley Frankel and Nicholas 

Metropolis) to visit the ENIAC 
project in 1945, and to program a 
problem that Los Alamos was very 
anxious to run on it. 

Later they did run the problem, 
or portions of it, and were enthusias¬ 
tic about the results. Other early 
users were Professor Douglas Hartree 
from Cambridge University [10, p. 
506], Dr. Derrick Lehmer of the 
University of California, and the 
author, [11]. It was a great day for 
all, with the Army and the University 
of Pennsylvania joining in the fan¬ 
fare, when ENIAC was publicly 

announced at its formal dedication 
on February 15, 1946. 

In late 1949 the ENIAC converter 
code, a coding system wherein 
instruction sequences were controlled 
from cards, was put into operation 
[18, p. 5]. This changed the ENIAC 
from a wired-programined computer 
to a card-programmed computer. 

7. Development of the 
Stored-program Concept 
During the development of the 
ENIAC it became clear that the 
greatest shortcoming was the limited 
amount of information that could 
be automatically stored and manip¬ 
ulated (twenty ten-decimal digit 
numbers). (Note that, if Babbage's 
machine had worked, it would have 
suffered this same shortcoming.) 

Again the means was there for an 
advance, provided by radar develop¬ 
ments of World War II. Delay lines 
had been used to store pulses in 
radar systems for making range 
measurements. From this it was a 
natural step to think of a recirculat¬ 
ing delay line where pulses were 
inserted at the beginning of the line, 
the output was amplified and 
standardized, and fed back to the 

Another radar development called 
a "moving target indicator" supplied 
an alternative memory device. A field 
of view was scanned and the echo 
was used to modulate the beam in a 
cathode ray tube. This produced a 
"picture" on the face of the tube. 

If some moments later the process 
was repeated, and the signal induced 
in a conductive plate of the tube was 
observed, it was found that a "blip" 
occurred wherever the new picture 
differed from the old (something had 
changed). Although considerable 
effort was spent on CRT storage 
at the Moore School, and substantial 
effort at MIT and other places 
went into special tubes [12, pp. 
21-28], the CRT form of information 
storage was most expeditiously 
developed by F. C. Williams at 
Manchester University, and became 
known as "Williams' tube" storage. 

A project was proposed at the 
University of Pennsylvania to build 
an improved computer, the 
"EDVAC" (Electronic Discrete 
Variable Computer), and work was 
started on this even before the 


9 ‘J WEW YORK, AUGUST 80, 1890. [ ri ' 0 %^ AR ‘ 


dedication of the ENIAC. The 
EDVAC was to use mercury delay 
line storage. 

The establishment of a program 
to solve a problem on the ENIAC 
had involved the interconnection of 
twenty accumulators, a multiplier 
and divider-square rooter (each using 
a number of these accumulators), 
perhaps some function tables, a 
master programmer, an input unit, 
and an output unit. Each sequential 
step in the computation involved one 
or more pluggable connections be¬ 
tween ENIAC units. Putting a new 
problem on the computer was, 
typically, a one-or-two-day task. 

At this point in the development 
there was a clear problem of speed¬ 
matching. First, in a general-purpose 
computer capable of solving problems 
in minutes, it was unreasonable to 
spend one or two days in changing 
from one problem to another. There¬ 
fore the wire connections of the 
ENIAC were unsatisfactory. 

Second, in an electronic computer 
which could access numbers and do 
arithmetic in a few hundred micro¬ 
seconds, it was unreasonable to 
control the sequence of operations 
from punched cards or tape, whose 
top speed was less than two cards 
per second (100 cards per minute). 

Thus, it was a natural develop¬ 
ment, considering the state of the 
art, to conceive of storing the instruc¬ 
tions in the memory and handling 
them similarly to the way numbers 
were to be handled. With this solu¬ 
tion there was no need to have a 
multiplicity of accumulators. So, one 
arithmetic unit was designed which 
would sequentially carry out all the 
arithmetic operations required in the 
computation. In a similar way a 
“control unit” would accept informa¬ 
tion from the memory and would 
control the presentation of operands 
to the arithmetic unit as well as 
the processing required (addition, 
subtraction, multiplication, etc.), and 
the storage of results. A drawing 
by H. D. Huskey dated June 1946 
shows such an arrangement. [7, 


After von Neumann's introduction 
to the ENIAC there were a number 
of meetings between him and the 
ENIAC staff discussing various ideas 
and proposals. As a joint effort this 
group developed the concept of a 

stored program. The results of this 
activity were written up by von 
Neumann in a “draft” report which, 
not being in final publication form, 
did not give due credit to others for 
the development of the ideas. 
However, the report was reproduced 
in this draft form and circulated 
quite widely. As a result von 
Neumann has generally received 
credit for the idea. 

8. Spreading the Word 
In July and August 1946 the Moore 
School of the University of Pennsyl¬ 
vania, under the auspices of the 
Office of Naval Research, U.S. Navy, 
and the Ordnance Department, U.S. 
Army, gave a special course entitled, 
“Theory and Techniques for Design 
of Electronic Digital Computers” [12]. 
Lectures were given covering the 
current state of the field by many 
experts of that time from outside the 
University of Pennsylvania, as well 
as by persons from the ENIAC and 
EDVAC projects. 

One of the attendees at the course 
was Maurice Wilkes from Cambridge 
University, who subsequently re¬ 
turned to England and built the 
EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage 
Automatic Calculator). This machine 
performed its first completely auto¬ 
matic calculation in May 1949 [13, 
p. 39]. Thus, the EDSAC became 
the first complete stored-program 
computer in operation. It was, like 
the EDVAC, a serial automatic 
machine using the binary system and 
having an ultrasonic memory 
(mercury tanks). Unlike the EDVAC, 
it was a single-address computer. 

Completion of the EDVAC was 
delayed until 1952. One of the 
reasons for the delay was the fact 
that many of the ENIAC personnel 
left the Moore School shortly after 
the dedication of the ENIAC. 

Eckert and Mauchly had formed 
their own company, the Electronic 
Control Company, which late in 
1947 had become the Eckert- 
Mauchly Computer Corporation. 
Goldstine had gone to work with 
von Neumann at the Institute for 
Advanced Study at Princeton, as had 
also Arthur Burks. Harry Huskey 
had gone to England to work on the 
Automatic Computing Engine 
project at the National Physical 
Laboratories with Turing. 

Like people, intelligent computers 
learn from experience and from 
their mistakes. 

A report was issued by von 
Neumann, Burks, and Goldstine in 
1946 [14], describing the logical 
design of the machine to be built at 
the Institute for Advanced Study, 
which came to be known as the IAS 
computer. This was followed by a 
number of other reports issued by the 
Institute for Advanced Study, under 
various authorships, describing the 
planning and coding, and the “phys¬ 
ical realization of an electronic 
computing instrument.” These 
reports made this the best docu¬ 
mented of the early computers. Von 
Neumann had an international 
reputation as an outstanding mathe¬ 
matician, and the IAS machine was 
widely copied. It was started in 1946 
and completed in 1952. [15, p. 241]. 

In 1945 the Navy Department 
realized that “there was a strong 
need for a centralized national 
computation facility equipped with 
high-speed automatic machinery, 
which would not only provide a 
computing service for other Govern¬ 
ment agencies, but would also play 
an active part in the further develop¬ 
ment of computing machinery” [20, 
p. 4]. It was suggested to the 
Director, E. U. Condon, of the 
National Bureau of Standards (NBS), 
that the Bureau “establish such a 
facility.” As a result, the National 
Applied Mathematics Laboratories 
came into being under John Curtiss. 

Various governmental agencies, 
such as the Census Bureau, were 
anxious to acquire electronic auto¬ 
matic computers. As none were yet 
available commercially, these agencies 
arranged for the NBS to assist them. 
In early 1948 the Bureau began 
negotiating with the Eckert-Mauchly 
Computer Corporation and with 
Raytheon Corporation for computers. 
Later in the year they also negotiated 
with Engineering Research Associates 
(ERA) in St. Paul. (Both Eckert- 
Mauchly and ERA were later ac¬ 
quired by Sperry Rand Corporation.) 

Impatient with the slow develop¬ 
ment of computers, and feeling the 
need for more “hands-on” expertise, 
the Bureau of Standards decided to 
build its own computer. This decision 

was made by the Mathematics 
Division at its advisory council 
meeting on May 18, 1948. Later in 
the year, Dr. Mina Rees, of the office 
of Naval Research, at another 
advisory council meeting in October 
1948, suggested that funds be pro¬ 
vided to build a second computer at 
the Institute for Numerical Analysis 
(an NBS field station located on the 
campus of the University of 
California at Los Angeles). These two 
Bureau computers became known as 
the SEAC and SWAC (Standards 
Eastern and Western Automatic 
Computers). The SEAC, built under 
the direction of Samuel Alexander, 
used mercury delay lines for storages, 
similar to the EDVAC. The SWAC, 
under the direction of Harry Huskey, 
used cathode ray tubes for memory, 
and when dedicated in August 1950 
was the fastest computer then in 

9. The Race 

January of 1949 saw many places 
working on stored program 

In summary: 

1. The Moore School was still work¬ 
ing on the EDVAC. 

2. Raytheon Corporation, under 
the direction of Louis Fein, was 
constructing a mercury delay line 
computer, RAYDAC, for the office 
of Naval Research. The distinctive 
feature of this machine was its 
elaborate checking system [19, p. 50]. 

3. M.I.T. was constructing Whirl¬ 
wind I using a dual-gun cathode ray 
tube for storage [19, p. 44]. 

4. The Institute for Advanced 
Study was building a computer in 
which it was planned to use a new 
RCA memory tube. [19, p. 365]. 

5. The University of Illinois was 
planning to build a computer. 

6. Engineering Research Associates 
had made a proposal to the Bureau 
of Standards to build a magnetic 
drum computer. 

7. The National Bureau of Stan¬ 
dards had decided to build two 
computers, SEAC in the East and 
SWAC in the West (UCLA). 

8. At Manchester, F. C. Williams 
was perfecting the cathode ray mem¬ 
ory tube, which was to carry his 

name, and was designing a computer 
using such tubes. 

9. At Cambridge University, M. V. 
Wilkes was working on the EDSAC. 

10. At the National Physical 
Laboratories (England), a group 
under Turring had designed a large 
general purpose computer called the 
ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) 
and had started construction on a 
pilot model. 

11. Eckert and Mauchly were trying 
to build their first UNIVAC. They 
had accepted a contract to deliver 

a simple computer, called the 
BINAC to v Northrop Aircraft 

A letter of D. H. Hartree dated 
December 28, 1948 describes the 
Manchester computer as being able 
to run small programs, and Wilkes as 
"getting somewhere near running his 
machine as a whole.” 

Everyone was having unexpected 
difficulties, so none of the computers 
were being finished when their 
designers expected. In fact, there 
came into existence the so-called 
von Neumann constant of eighteen 
months—that being the time to 
completion measured from whenever 
one asked. 

In May of 1949 Wilkes mailed out 
samples of punched tape and print¬ 
outs showing the results of a compu¬ 
tation on the EDSAC. At this same 
time the Manchester computer was 
essentially operative. Wilkes' com¬ 
puter was operated for several years 
in essentially the same form in which 
it existed in 1949, whereas the 
Manchester design was taken over by 
Ferranti Corporation, leading to a 
commercial product. The Bureau of 
Standards dedicated its two com¬ 
puters in May and August of 1950. 
Whirlwind I became operational in 
1950. Sperry Rand (Eckert and 
Mauchly) delivered the UNIVAC I 
in March of 1951. The Institute for 
Advanced Study completed its com¬ 
puter in 1952. The University of 
Illinois, who essentially copied the 
IAS computer, also finished theirs 
in 1952. IBM delivered its first 
stored-program computer, the 701 
(originally called the Defense 
Calculator), in April, 1953. [17, p. 

30]. The Raytheon computer, 
RAYDAC, was delivered in July 

1953. By 1955 there were forty-four 
companies or institutions building 
computers. [15, p. 204]. Today there 
may be fewer than forty-four com¬ 
panies in the field, but there are 
more than 60,000 computers in use. 


1. Encyclopaedia Britannica , Inc., 
Chicago, 1970. 

2. Aaboe, Asger, Episodes from the 
Early History of Mathematics , New 
Mathematical Library, Random 
House, New York, 1964, pp. 4-33. 

3. Rosenberg, Jerry M., The Com¬ 
puter Prophets , The Macmillan 
Company, New York, 1969. 

4. Stibitz, George R. and Larrivee, 
Jules A., Mathematics and Com¬ 
puter s, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New 
York, 1957. 

5. Babbage, Charles, Passages from 
the Life of a Philosopher , Longman, 
Green, Roberts, and Green, London, 

6. Babbage, Henry P., Babbage’s 
Calculating Engines , E. and F. N. 
Spon, London, 1889. 

7. Progress Report on the EDVAC , 
vols. I and II, University of Pennsyl¬ 
vania, Philadelphia, 1946. 

8. Eccles, W. H. and Jordan, F. W., 
"A Trigger Relay Utilizing Three- 
Electrode Thermionic Vacuum 
Tubes,” Radio Review , vol. 1, pp. 
143-46, December, 1919. 

9. Burks, Arthur W., "Electronic 
Computing Circuits of the ENIAC,” 
Proc. Institute of Radio Engineers , 
vol. 35, no. 8, pp. 756-67, August 

10. Hartree, D. R., "The ENIAC. 
An Electronic Computing Machine,” 
Nature , vol. 158, no. 4015, pp. 500— 
506, October 12, 1946. 

11. Huskey, Harry D., "On the 
Precision of a Certain Procedure of 
Numerical Integration,” J. Research 
National Bureau of Standards , vol. 

42, pp. 57-62, January 1949. 

12. Theory and Techniques for 
Design of Electronic Digital Com- 
puters 7 vols. I and II, University 

of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1947. 
(Lectures given at the Moore School, 
8 July 1946-31 August 1946) 

13. Wilkes, M. V., Automatic 
Digital Computers , John Wiley & 
Son, New York, 1956. 

14. Burks, Arthur W.; Goldstine, 
Herman H.; and von Neumann, 

John, Preliminary Discussion of the 
Logical Design of an Electronic 
Computing Instrument , The Insti¬ 
tute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 
28 June 1946. 

15. Weik, Martin H., BRL, A 
Survey of Domestic Electronic 
Digital Computing Systems , Report 
No. 971, Ballistic Research Labora¬ 
tories, Aberdeen Proving Ground, 
Maryland, December 1955. 

16. Correspondence between John 

Curtiss and L. H. LaMotte (IBM), 
dated February 15, 1951. 

17. Cole, R. Wade, Introduction to 
Computing , McGraw-Hill Book Co., 
New York, 1969. 

18. Fritz, W. Barkley, Description 
of the ENIAC Converter Code , 
Memorandum Report No. 582, 
Ballistic Research Laboratories, 
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 
December 1951. 

19. Proceedings of a Second Sym¬ 

posium of Large-Scale Digital 
Calculating Machinery , Annals 26, 
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 

20. The National Applied Mathe¬ 
matics Laboratories—A Prospectus , 
National Bureau of Standards, 
Washington, D.C., February 1947. 

21. Newman, James R., World of 
Mathematics , Simon and Schuster, 
New York, 1956. 


Fred Finn Mazanek, a one-year-old 
guppy, died recently, leaving an estate 
of $5000. 

A student at the University of 
Arizona received one of the computer- 
mailed “occupant” life insurance offers. 
The student diligently filled out the 
insurance form for this fish, listing the 
fish’s age as six months, his weight as 
thirty centigrams, and his height as 
three centimeters. Then another com¬ 
puter (or maybe the same computer 
who mailed the original offer) duly 
issued Policy No. 3261057 in Fred 
Finn’s name from the Globe Life and 
Accident Insurance Company and 
began billing and collecting premiums. 

A few months later, the fish died, 
and the owner filed a claim. Although 
the insurance company was quite upset, 
they found it best to settle out of court 
for $650. 

Man and the Computer 

Honeywell Corporation 

Scientists tell us that earth is about 4 Vz billion years old. Imagine all 
this time represented by a 24-hour earth clock. The first faint 
traces of life appeared at about 2:00 P.M. (14 hours). The dinosaur 
showed up at about 11:00 P.M. (23 hours). And the human 
species? Man finally made the scene at two seconds before midnight. 

The entire last six thousand years of our recorded history have 
occurred in the final one-tenth of a second. 

And what's happened in a third of this fraction of a second? It 
took man 1,750 years from the year 1 A.D. to double his techno¬ 
logical knowledge. By the year 1900, in 150 years, he had doubled 
his knowledge again. And doubled it once more between 1900 and 1950. 

Then, in just ten years, he once more doubled his entire technological knowl¬ 
edge. And between 1960 and 1970, it's estimated that man again performed the 
miracle, in something under ten years. Perhaps the major part of man's recent 
astonishing development of technological knowledge has been due to the use of 
an essentially simple man-made tool . . . the computer. 


Baer, Robert M. The Digital Villain. Reading, Mass.: 
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1972. 

Bobrow, Davis B. and Judah L. Schwartz. Computers and 
the Policy-making Community. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 
Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. 

Fenchel, R. R., and Weizenbaum, J. Computers and Com¬ 
putation. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 

Hawkes, Nigel. The Computer Revolution. New York: E. P. 
Dutton, 1972. 

Holmes, James D. and Elias M. Awad. Perspectives on 
Electronic Data Processing. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice- 
Hall, Inc., 1972. 

Martin, J. and Adrian R. D. Norman. The Computerized 
Society. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1970. 
Matusow, Harvey. The Beast of Business. London: Wolfe 
Publishing Ltd., 1968. 

Pylyshyn, Zenon W. Perspectives on the Computer Revolu¬ 
tion. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1970. 

Rothman, Stanley and Charles Mossman. Computers and 
Society. Chicago: Science Research Associates, Inc., 1975. 

Sackman, Harold and H. Borko. Computers and the Prob¬ 
lems of Society. Montvale, N.J.: AFIPS Press, 1972. 

Toffler, Alvin. Future Shock. New York: Random House, 

Traviss, Irene. The Computer Impact. Englewood Cliffs, 
N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1970. 

Westin, Alan F. Information Technology in a Democracy. 
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971. 

Wiener, N. God and Golem , Inc. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. 
Press, 1964. 

Wiener, N. The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics 
and Society. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1954. 

Withington, Frederic G. The Real Computer: Its Influence , 
Uses , and Effects. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publish¬ 
ing Company, 1969. 


1. Collect a list of complaints about computers. Can you 
draw any conclusions by analyzing the complaints? 

2. Read a novel in which a computer is a major element 
in the story. How important is the computer in the 
plot? Did the author really understand the uses and 
limitations of computers? Justify your conclusion. 

3. What applications of computers do you fear or desire 
the most? Why? 

4. The computer is often used as a scapegoat or excuse 
for human errors. Can you find any examples of serious 
errors that were the result of computer use? Exactly 
where should the blame be placed for each failure? 
What is your reaction when someone tells you that he 
or she was inconvenienced because of a computer error? 

5. The Society for the Abolition of Data Processing 
Machines is located in England. Find out as much as 
possible about this group. (Maybe you will even want 
to join.) 

6. Find out as much as possible about your teacher (or a 
local politician or someone else) from public records. 
Examples of public records are tax records, court 
records, voting registration lists and motor vehicle files. 
See how difficult it would be to obtain information 
from other non-public files such as: credit files, bank 
records, school records, arrest records, and so forth. 

7. Interview friends about their attitude towards com¬ 
puters. Try to separate the emotional from the factual. 

8. Construct an argument to the effect that computerized 
information processing systems are leading to the de¬ 
humanization of our society. 

9. The two articles, “I am a Computer" and "Computers 
Aren't So Smart After All" express opposite opinions 
about the potential of computers. Which do you agree 
with? Why? 

10. Write a report on anti-machine literature or anti¬ 
machine political movements. 

11. Write a paper on the history of number systems and 

12. Write a paper on someone important in the early com¬ 
puter field. Some examples are: 

a) Babbage 

b) Countess Lovelace 

c) von Neumann 

d) Additional possibilities are listed in "The Develop¬ 
ment of Automatic Computing" in this chapter. 

13. Babbage's Analytical Engine could not be properly 
built because the technology in his age was not ad¬ 
vanced enough to build it. Find other devices in history 
that were ahead of the current technology. 

14. What major developments took place in data processing 
before 1900? 

15. Write a paper on devices that led to the modern 

16. Start a collection of cartoons and jokes about com¬ 
puters. What does your collection reveal about the 
public's feeling towards computers? 

17. Start a collection of television, magazine, and news¬ 
paper items about computers. What does your col¬ 
lection tell you about the public attitude towards 
computers? How many of the items portray computers 
in a positive light? In a negative light? 

18. Develop a questionnaire about attitudes toward com¬ 
puters. Then pass it around and summarize the results 

19. Here are several magazines that devoted a whole issue 
to computers. Look up one or two of these that interest 

a) "Behold the Computer Revolution," National 
Geographic (November 1970). 

b) "How the Computer Does It," Life (October 27, 

c) "Man and Machine," Psychology Today (April 

d) "The New Computerized Age," Saturday Review 
(July 23, 1966). 

e) "Business Takes a Second Look at Computers," 
Business Week (June 5, 1971). 





The Brain and the Computer 


The brain can operate reliably for 
decades without really serious 

The similarities between the brain and computers have often been pointed 
out. The differences are perhaps more illuminating, for they may suggest the 
important features missing from our best current brain models. Among the 
most important of these are: 

1. Differences in size. Six orders of magnitude in the number of components 
takes us so far from our ordinary experience as to make extrapolation of func¬ 
tion next to meaningless. 

2. Differences in structural organization. The apparently random local struc¬ 
ture of nerve networks is vastly different from the precise wiring of artificial 
automata, where a single wrong connection may cause malfunctioning. The 
brain somehbw is designed so that overall functioning does not depend on the 
exact structure in the small. 

3. Differences in reliability organization. The brain can operate reliably for 
decades without really serious malfunctioning (comparable to the meaningless 
gibberish produced by a computer in trouble conditions), even though the 
components are probably individually no more reliable than those used in 

4. Differences in logical organization. The differences here seem so great as 
to defy enumeration. The brain is largely self-organizing. It can adapt to an 
enormous variety of situations tolerably well. It has remarkable memory classifi¬ 
cation and access features, the ability to rapidly locate stored data via numerous 
"coordinate systems/' It can set up stable servosystems involving complex rela¬ 
tions between its sensory inputs and motor outputs, with great facility. In 
contrast, our digital computers look like idiot savants. For long chains of 
arithmetic operations a digital computer runs circles around the best humans. 
When we try to program computers for other activities their entire organization 
seems clumsy and inappropriate. 

5. Differences in input-output equipment. The brain is equipped with beau¬ 
tifully designed input organs, particularly the ear and the eye, for sensing the 
state of its environment. Our best artificial counterparts, such as Shepard's 
Analyzing Reader for recognizing and transcribing type and the "Audrey" 
speech recognition system, which can recognize the speech sounds for the ten 
digits, seem pathetic by comparison. On the output end, the brain controls 
hundreds of muscles and glands. The two arms and hands have some sixty 
independent degrees of freedom. Compare this with the manipulative ability of 
the digitally controlled milling machine developed at M.I.T., which can move 
its work in but three coordinates. Most of our computers, indeed, have no 
significant sensory or manipulative contact with the real world but operate only 
in an abstract environment of numbers and operations on numbers. 

Magnetic Larceny 

Modern Data 

The potential for credit card fraud achieved a high degree of public visibility 
in August 1973, when a Business Week article disclosed the "how to" details of 
three ingenious but simple card-counterfeiting methods that had been hinted at 
earlier in the year. The schemes contained a touch of irony: they all depended 
on the magnetic strip that many card issuers are now using for rapid, online 
credit authorization. 

The simplest and cheapest of the potential swindles involved tickets for 
San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit System (bart). Similar in appearance to 
a bank or travel card, the bart ticket has a magnetic stripe that stores a 
dollars-and-cents value which is decremented each time the card is used in a 
turnstile. Unfortunately for the transit system, the heat from a household iron 
can be used to transfer the magnetically-encoded value of a new $20 ticket to 

A job this 



'60 A 
com pure* 

/_ COVER. 

YHUH'r- .v HERE— 


/ pt'c. /MPRESS 

SEE' / Y0UR / 

' / FRIENDS. '. 

/l @@@ 
4^3 Bgp^i r 

an ordinary piece of recording tape, which can then be glued onto a used-up 

But the fraud potential doesn't stop with streetcar fares. The use of the 
magnetic stripe is already widespread, and has been gaining considerable 
momentum this year. American Express, which began to attach the stripe to its 
4-million travel and entertainment cards way back in March 1972, will begin 
this month to install "many thousands" of Addressograph-Multigraph Credit 
Authorization Terminals in its major affiliated service establishments. Mutual 
Institutions National Transfer System (mints), an affiliate of the National 
Association of Mutual Savings Banks, is busily building a nationwide funds 
transfer system around its own card. And several regional banking groups have 
had similar systems up and running for some time. 

The potential market for terminals to read these cards is enormous. There 
are more than 60-million bank credit cards alone in the United States. Add in 
the airline, travel and entertainment, oil company, and retail store plastic and 
the total is somewhere between 200- and 300-million cards. And terminal equip¬ 
ment suppliers apparently are banking on the magnetic stripe technology. 

Besides Addressograph-Multigraph, current vendors of magnetic-card-reading 
terminals include ibm, Burroughs, Litton Industries, and Pitney-Bowes. New 
terminals, from both domestic and foreign manufacturers, are appearing all the 

In the midst of all this magnetic momentum , is anyone really worried about 
the sophisticated thief? Many are not, or at least not publicly, mints, Chase 
Manhattan Bank in New York, and at least one regional banking group all say 
they have run tests and are satisfied. The American Bankers Association, which 
has endorsed the stripe, conducted 18 months of tests and found not one case 
of fraud "in a live environment." 

But others do worry. Carte Blanche, for one, is standing on the sidelines 
waiting for more substantial encouragement. The worst doubts came from 
First National City Bank in New York, whose Transaction Technology sub¬ 
sidiary has an alternate card-reading system. In fact, it was Citibank's sponsor¬ 
ship of a fraud-engineering contest earlier this year that elicited the ingenious 
card-tampering methods later disclosed by Business W^eek. The announcement 
of the contest results immediately brought accusations of "vested interest" 
against the bank, since its machine-readable card uses a secret recording 
medium different from magnetic tape. In any event, the vigorous criticism of 
the bank's "grandstanding tactics"-a phrase attributed to John Fisher, vice 
president of City National Bank (Columbus, Ohio) in a Wall Street Journal 
article—may very well have masked some real fears. 

Whether the magnetic stripe, or Citibank's mysterious medium, or some 
other means of machine-readable recording is to be used on plastic cards, there 
is a broader question here: Should the security reside in the card , in the com¬ 
puter system , or in both? And while the users, potential users, and vendors of 
these systems are all trying to agree on that one, they might also pause to 
consider whether some old-fashioned means of verifying the card bearer's 
identity, like a photograph, may still be a useful element in any security 

The heat from a household iron 
can be used to transfer the mag¬ 
netically-encoded value of a new 
$20 ticket to an ordinary piece of 
recording tape, which can then be 
glued onto a used-up ticket. 


In the 1960s there was a big push to 
use computers to do foreign-language 
translation. Computers were supplied 
with a small bilingual dictionary with 
the corresponding words in the two 
languages. It soon became apparent 
that word-for-word translation was 
virtually useless. The addition of a 
dictionary of phrases brought only 
marginal improvement. 

These translators can be tested by 
translating English to Russian and then 
Russian back to English. Hopefully, one 
should end up with about the same as 
one started. Using this method, the 
maxim, "Out of sight, out of mind" 
ended up as "The person is blind, 
and is insane". 

Another example was: "The spirit is 
willing but the flesh is weak." It was 
translated as "The wine is good but 
the meat is raw". 

Needless to say, computer translation 
is presently used very little. And it is 
doubtful that it will be useful in the near 

Technology, McDonald s Collide As Students Best Burger Bonanza 

By Catherine Arnst 

PASADENA, Calif.—McDonald’s Res¬ 
taurants, whose hamburgers have taken 
their place along with Mom and apple pie 
as a piece of Americana, was recently 
confronted by a computer and 26 students 
from the California Institute of Technology 
(Cal Tech) following another American 
tradition—free enterprise. 

It started when 187 McDonald’s in five 
counties of southern California held a 
sweepstake during March. The $40,000 
worth of prizes included a new sports car, 
a year’s free groceries, a station wagon 
and free McDonald’s coupons. 

Entrants were required only to be a 
resident of one of the five counties and 
fill out either an entry blank or a three- 
by-five piece of paper with their name 
and address. No purchase was required 
and there was no limit to the number of 
times each person could enter. 

The Cal Tech students, headed by senior 
John Denker, realized these rules pre¬ 
sented them with an opportunity to turn 
their DP training to a money-making 

The students used the school’s IBM 
370/158 to print out 1.2 million entry 
blanks with their names on them. Denker 
said enough paper was used to cover “two 
and one half football fields or [reach] 
higher than a three-story building.” 

The program they wrote consisted of 
four simple lines of FORTRAN. Although 
Denker admitted it probably would have 
been more practical to have a regular 
printer do the entry blanks, the students 
had ready access to the computer and it 
was faster. 

On the final day of the contest the 
students went to 90 McDonald’s in the 
specified counties and started stuffing 
the entry boxes. Their computerized en¬ 
tries made up over one-third of the 3.4 
million total number of entries. 

McDonald’s Not Pleased 

McDonald’s was not delighted with the 
students’ high level of participation in the 
sweepstakes. Although Denker claimed 
their entries are legally valid, Ron 
Lopaty, president of the McDonald’s 
Operator’s Association of Southern Cali¬ 
fornia, said he feels “the students acted in 
complete contradiction to the American 
standards of fair play and sportsmanship.” 

The contest’s purpose, he said, was “to 
give customers an opportunity, in a time 
of economic stress, to win free groceries 
and transportation. So you can under¬ 
stand our displeasure when their chances 
of winning were greatly reduced by the 
Cal Tech students using an unfair advan¬ 
tage of computerized entry blanks.” 

Part of the public agreed with him in 
letters and phone calls to both McDonald’s 
and Cal Tech. The state’s attorney general 
even received a petition signed by over two 

dozen southern California residents which 
said “the use of equipment at a state or 
federally funded college, university or 
institution for the pursuit of personal 
interest, not to mention cheating American 
consumers, is an absolute outrage.” 

As for Cal Tech, it has taken no position 
on the issue, claiming it was the students’ 
private endeavor. 

Lopaty said McDonald’s has agreed “to 
honor as 100% valid all the Cal Tech 
students’ 1.2 million computerized en¬ 
tries” and, in fairness to the other en¬ 
trants, will fyold a second drawing in which 
all the computerized entries will be ex¬ 
cluded and duplicate prizes of any won 
by the students will be awarded again. 

For the students, the McDonald’s caper, 
as they call the affair, has paid off. They 
have already been notified they’ve won a 
Datsun 710 station wagon, a year’s free 
supply of groceries and innumerable $5 
gift certificates. 

“Part of the loot will be used to finance 
improvements in Page House, our resi¬ 
dence here at Cal Tech,” Denker said. 
“The rest will be donated to charity.” 

Denker was dismayed at the restaurant 
chain’s reaction to the incident, saying he 
doesn’t feel they violated American stan¬ 
dards of fair play. 

“Just because it is unexpected doesn’t 
mean it’s unfair,” he explained. “We feel 
that by accepting the challenge to enter 
as often as you wish, we have acted in 
accordance with the best ideals of Amer¬ 
ican sportsmanship.” 

There are those who agree with him, 
and Cal Tech garnered a prize of its own 
from one of them. The Burger King chain 
of restaurants, McDonald’s arch rival, has 
awarded $3,000 to the school to set up a 
“John Denker Scholarship” in honor of 
the student who masterminded the 

“Still the same answer. To increase the margin of profit y 
put more bread crumbs in the hamburger ” 

Drawing by Mirachi; © 1966 The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. 



The first program to which I wish to call attention is a particular member of a 
family of programs which has come to be known as DOCTOR. The family 
name of these programs is ELIZA. This name was chosen because these 
programs, like the Eliza of Pygmalion fame, can be taught to speak increasingly 
well. DOCTOR causes ELIZA to respond roughly as would certain psycho¬ 
therapists (Rogerians). ELIZA performs best when its human correspondent 
is initially instructed to “talk” to it, via the typewriter, of course, just as one 
would to a psychiatrist. 

A typical conversation is the following: 

Men are all alike. 


They're always bugging us about something or other, v 
Well, my boyfriend made me come here. 

He says I'm depressed much of the time. 

It's true. I am unhappy. 


I need some help, that much seems certain. 

Perhaps I could learn to get along with my mother. 

My mother takes care of me. 

My father. 



You are not very aggressive but I think you don't want me to notice that 

You don't argue with me. 

You are afraid of me. 

My father is afraid of everybody. 





[The above is not as difficult to program as it may seem, since it all revolves 
around two simple principles: repetition and keywords. The repetition works 
as follows: If the user types something like 
I hate my mother, 
the computer can respond 


The computer has simply used the input sentence to phrase a similar sentence 
and carry on the conversation. This is what a “leader” on a talk show does 
or what a psychologist often does. 

The second principle is scanning for keywords. Each input sentence can be 
checked for common keywords such as dislike, happy, depressed, and so forth. 
Then one of several “stock” responses can be generated. Even though the 
above computer conversation may look fairly intelligent on the machine's side, 
n closer examination will indicate that the computer program really contributes 
very little. At the present moment, it looks like a truly conversational program 
would be very difficult to create.— ed.\ 

Medical Transition 


Flight 404 from Los Angeles to Boston was somewhere over 
eastern Ohio when Mrs. Sylvia Thompson, a fifty-six-year-old 
mother of three, began to experience chest pain. 

The pain was not severe, but it was persistent. After the 
aircraft landed, she asked an airline official if there was a 
doctor at the airport. He directed her to the Logan Airport 
Medical Station, at Gate 23, near the Eastern Airlines 

Entering the waiting area, Mrs. Thompson told the 
secretary that she would like to see a doctor. 

“Are you a passenger?" the secretary said. 

“Yes," Mrs. Thompson said. 

“What seems to be the matter?" 

“I have a pain in my chest." 

“The doctor will see you in just a minute," the secretary 
said. “Please take a seat." 

Mrs. Thompson sat down. From her chair, she could 
look across the reception area to the computer console 
behind the secretary, and beyond to the small pharmacy and 
dispensary of the station. She could see three of the six nurses 
who run the station around the clock. It was now two in the 
afternoon, and the station was relatively quiet; earlier in 
the day a half dozen people had come in for yellow fever 
vaccinations, which are given every Tuesday and Saturday 
morning. But now the only other patient she could see was a 
young airplane mechanic who had cut his finger and was 
having it cleaned in the treatment room down the corridor. 

A nurse came over and checked her blood pressure, pulse, 
and temperature, writing the information down on a slip of 

The door to the room nearest Mrs. Thompson was closed. 
From inside, she heard muffled voices. After several minutes, 
a stewardess came out and closed the door behind her. The 
stewardess arranged her next appointment with the secre¬ 
tary, and left. 

The secretary turned to Mrs. Thompson. “The doctor will 
talk with you now," she said, and led Mrs. Thompson into 
the room that the stewardess had just left. 

It was pleasantly furnished with drapes and a carpet. 
There was an examining table and a chair; both faced a 
television console. Beneath the TV screen was a remote- 

control television camera. Over in another corner of the room 
was a portable camera on a rolling tripod. In still another 
corner, near the examining couch, was a large instrument 
console with gauges and dials. 

“YouTl be speaking with Dr. Murphy," the secretary said. 

A nurse then came into the room and motioned Mrs. 
Thompson to take a seat. Mrs. Thompson looked uncertainly 
at all the equipment. On the screen, Dr. Raymond Murphy 
was looking down at some papers on his desk. 

The nurse said: “Dr. Murphy." 

Dr. Murphy looked up. The television camera beneath 
the TV screen made a grinding noise, and pivoted around to 
train on the nurse. 


“This is Mrs. Thompson from Los Angeles. She is a 
passenger, fifty-six-years old, and she has chest pain. Her 
blood pressure is 120/80, her pulse is 78, and her temperature 
is 101.4." 

Dr. Murphy nodded. “How do you do, Mrs. Thompson." 

Mrs. Thompson was slightly flustered. She turned to the 
nurse. “What do I do?" 

“Just talk to him. He can see you through that camera 
there, and hear you through that microphone." She pointed 
to the microphone suspended from the ceiling. 

“But where is he?" 

“Em at the Massachusetts General Hospital," Dr. Murphy 
said. “When did you first get this pain?" 

“Today, about two hours ago." 

“In flight?" 


“What were you doing when it began?" 

“Eating lunch. It's continued since then." 

“Can you describe it for me?" 

“It's not very strong, but it’s sharp. In the left side of my 
chest. Over here," she said, pointing. Then she caught her¬ 
self, and looked questioningly at the nurse. 

“I see," Dr. Murphy said. “Does the pain go anywhere? 
Does it move around?" 


“Do you have pain in your stomach, or in your teeth, or in 
either of your arms?" 


“Does anything make it worse or better?” 

“It hurts when I take a deep breath.” 

“Have you ever had it before?” 

“No. This is the first time.” 

“Have you ever had any trouble with your heart or lungs 

She said she had not. The interview continued for several 
minutes more, while Dr. Murphy determined that she had no 
striking symptoms of cardiac disease, that she smoked a pack 
of cigarettes a day, and that she had a chronic unproductive 

He then said, “I'd like you to sit on the couch, please. 
The nurse will help you disrobe.” 

Mrs. Thompson moved from the chair to the couch. The 
remote-control camera whirred mechanically as it followed 
her. The nurse helped Mrs. Thompson undress. Then Dr. 
Murphy said: “Would you point to where the pain is, 

Mrs. Thompson pointed to the lower-left chest wall, her 
finger describing an arc along the ribs. 

“All right. Pm going to listen to your lungs and heart 

The nurse stepped to the large instrument console and 
began flicking switches. She then applied a small, round 
metal stethoscope to Mrs. Thompson's chest. On the TV 
screen, Mrs. Thompson saw Dr. Murphy place a stethoscope 
in his ears. 

“Just breathe easily with your mouth open,” Dr. Murphy 

For some minutes he listened to breath sounds, directing 
the nurse where to move the stethoscope. He then asked 
Mrs. Thompson to say “ninety-nine” over and over, while 
the stethoscope was moved. At length he shifted his atten¬ 
tion to the heart. 

“Now Pd like you to lie down on the couch,” Dr. Murphy 
said, and directed that the stethoscope be removed. To the 
nurse: “Put the remote camera on Mrs. Thompson's face. 
Use a close-up lens.” 

“An eleven hundred?” the nurse asked. 

“An eleven hundred will be fine.” 

The nurse wheeled the remote camera over from the 
corner of the room and trained it on Mrs. Thompson's face. 
In the meantime, Dr. Murphy adjusted his own camera so 
that it was looking at her abdomen. 

“Mrs. Thompson,” Dr. Murphy said, “I'll be watching 
both your face and your stomach as the nurse palpates your 
abdomen. Just relax now.” 

He then directed the nurse, who felt different areas of the 
abdomen. None was tender. 

“I'd like to look at the feet now,” Dr. Murphy said. With 
the help of the nurse, he checked them for edema. Then he 
looked at the neck veins. 

“Mrs. Thompson, we're going to take a cardiogram now.” 

The proper leads were attached to the patient. On the TV 
screen, she watched Dr. Murphy turn to one side and look 
at a thin strip of paper. 

The nurse said: “The cardiogram is transmitted directly 
to him.” 

“Oh my,” Mrs. Thompson said. “How far away is he?” 

“Two and a half miles,” Dr. Murphy said, not looking 
up from the cardiogram. 

While the examination was proceeding, another nurse was 
preparing samples of Mrs. Thompson's blood and urine in a 
laboratory down the hall. She placed the samples under a 
microscope attached to a TV camera. Watching on a 
monitor, she could see the image that was being transmitted 
to Dr. Murphy. She could also talk directly with him, moving 
the slide about as he instructed. 

Mrs. Thompson had a white count of 18,000. Dr. Murphy 
could clearly see an increase in the different kinds of white 
cells. He could also see that the urine was clean, with no 
evidence of infection. 

Back in the examining room, Dr. Murphy said: “Mrs. 
Thompson, it looks like you have a pneumonia. We'd like 
you to come into the hospital for X rays and further evalua¬ 
tion. 1'm going to give you something to make you a little 
more comfortable.” 

He directed the nurse to write a prescription. She then 
carried it over to the telewriter, above the equipment con¬ 
sole. Using the telewriter unit at the MGH, Dr. Murphy 
signed the prescription. 

Afterward, Mrs. Thompson said: “My goodness. It was 
just like the real thing.” 

When she had gone, Dr. Murphy discussed both her case 
and the television link-up. 

“We think it's an interesting system,” he said, “and it has 
a lot of potential. It's interesting that patients accept it 
quite well. Mrs. Thompson was a little hesitant at first, but 
very rapidly became accustomed to the system. There's a 
reason—talking by closed-circuit TV is really very little 
different from direct, personal interviews. I can see your facial 
expression, and you can see mine; we can talk to each other 
quite naturally. It's true that we are both in black and white, 
not color, but that's not really important. It isn't even im¬ 
portant for dermatologic diagnoses. You might think that 
color would be terribly important in examining a skin rash, 
but it's not. The history a patient gives and the distribution 
of the lesions on the body and their shape give important 
clues. We've had very good success diagnosing rashes in black 
and white, but we do need to evaluate this further. 

“The system we have here is pretty refined. We can look 
closely at various parts of the body, using different lenses 
and lights. We can see down the throat; we can get close 
enough to examine pupillary dilation. We can easily see the 
veins on the whites of the eyes. So it's quite adequate for 
most things. 

“There are some limitations, of course. You have to 
instruct the nurse in what to do, in your behalf. It takes 
time to arrange the patient, the cameras, and the lighting, 
to make certain observations. And for some procedures, such 
as palpating the abdomen, you have to rely heavily on the 
nurse, though we can watch for muscle spasm and facial 
reaction to pain—that kind of thing. 

“We don't claim that this is a perfect system by any 
means. But it's an interesting way to provide a doctor to an 
area that might not otherwise have one.” 


A computer can do more work than 
a person. 

One reason that’s little known 
Is that it never has to stop 
To answer the telephone. 

A computer can do more work than 
a person. 

One more way to explain 
Is that it doesn’t stop its work 
To argue and complain. 

A computer can do more work than 
a person. 

Because it never takes 
Those dawdling, lengthy lapses 
That we call coffee breaks. 

A computer can do more work than 
a person. 

And it’s easy to see why. 

It doesn’t sit with its chin on its hand 
and watch the girls and boys prance by. 

A computer can do more work than 
a person. 

One reason it’s such a whiz: 

It doesn’t buttonhole passersby 
To tell them how busy it is. 

A computer doesn’t take nervous pills 
All day at the water fountains, 

And wastes no time with molehills 
Making them into mountains. 

A computer can do more work than 
a person. 

Because, I have a hunch 
It doesn’t spend three hours 
With a customer at lunch. 

A computer can do more work than 
a person. 

And one good reason I’ve seen is 
It doesn’t spend the afternoon 
Half-conscious from martinis. 

A computer can do more work than 
a person. 

And partly it’s a matter 
Of not spending all day angling 
For the next job up the ladder. 

A computer can do more work than 
a person. 

Here’s a final explanation: 

It wastes no time on fears of being 
Replaced by Automation. 


Computer Generations 

Honeywell Corporation 

Industry competition was—and is—a vital driving force in the development of 
“generations” of computers. The first generation featured vacuum tubes; the 
second, transistors. The third and current generation is based on integrated 
circuits. Further developments are in sight—perhaps involving LSI (Large Scale 
Integration—making large segments of computer logic elements extremely 
smaller than those presently used) and “exotic” memory techniques (more 
data storage in less space, with speedier data accessibility). 

The miniaturized vacuum tube made possible 39,000 additions a second. 
Development of the transistor allowed a computer to perform 204,000 additions 
a second. The “solid state” technology of the microminiaturized transistor- 
placing all electronic components for a circuit on a half-inch ceramic tile- 
jumped the number of additions a computer could handle to 1,284,000 a 
second. Today, with monolithic integrated circuits—putting 72 complete 
circuits on a tiny chip—a computer can perform up to 15,000,000 additions 
a second. 

Imagine the speed of addition (and subtracting, dividing, multiplying) 
tomorrow, next year, or a decade from now! 

How a Typical Computer Works 

Honeywell Corporation 

In “computerese” two terms are constantly used. Hardware refers to the visible 
equipment itself; software to the programs, routines, codes, and other written 
information used to direct the operation of digital computers. How does a 
typical computer work? 

A representative computer system is shown in the schematic diagram (Figure 
1). The system is composed of a central processor (the computer), an input 
section, an output section, a console, and a buffer. The operator has to be able 
to put certain data into the computer, instruct the computer to act on the 
data in a certain way, and then get a response or output. 

The central processor has three sections: the memory, the arithmetic and 
logic unit, and the control and timing unit. Information (data) is fed into the 
memory of the central processor by an input device (such as a teletypewriter). 
Depending on the operator's instruction to the processor, the arithmetic and 
logic unit electronically adds, subtracts, multiplies, divides, compares, and moves 
data. The control and timing unit determines which instructions in memory 
are to be carried out and when, and also where the result of the calculation is 
to be stored. 

The computer console gives the operator direct control of the system. 
Through the console the operator can enter information, query memory con¬ 
tent, command functions to be performed, and read data from storage devices 
outside the central processor. The console's control panel contains lights, 
switches, push buttons, and sometimes other elements. Since the computer 
usually works automatically, lights only indicate the operation of the system. 

But the switches, push buttons, or other elements may be used by the operator 
to enter data or manually control system operation. 

The system responds to the operator's command for information through 
output devices (such as an automatic teletypewriter or TV-type display screen). 
Output devices may be extremely sophisticated, ranging from high-speed 
printers using continuous paper to theater-style picture displays in color 
depicting changes in a process or situation as they occur in "real" (almost 
instantaneous) time. 

The buffer is a storage device used to compensate for a difference in the 
rate of the flow of data, or the time of occurrence of events, when transmitting 
data from one device to another. Peripheral equipment—another basic term—is 
of two general kinds. First are the input and output devices that aid the 
operator in "speaking" with the system. Second are the devices that provide 
bulk facilities for storing data and programs, such as punched cards, paper or 
magnetic tape and magnetic disks and drums. Just as a phonograph record may 
be exchanged for another, so different cards, tapes, disks, or drums may be 
"played" on the system. These devices are known as external memory. 

Paper Tape Reader 


Tape Units 





The Machines, beyond Shylock, 

When cut bleed not, 

When hit bruise not, 

When scared shy not, 

Lose nothing and so nothing gain; 

They are but a dumb show: 

Put Idiot in 

And the moron light you’ll know. 

Stuff right, get right, 

Stuff rot, got rot, 

For no more power lies here 
Than man himself has got. 

Man his energy conserves? 

Machineries wait. 

Man misses the early train? 

Then Thought itself is late. 

Sum totallings of men lie here 
And not the sum of all machines, 

This is man’s weather, his winter, 

His wedding forth of time and place 
and will, 

His downfell snow, 

The tidings of his soul 
This paper avalanche sounds off 
his slope 

And drowns the precipice of Time 
with white. 

This tossed confetti celebrates his 
Or his joy. 

The night begins and goes and ends 
with him. 

No machinery opens forth the cham¬ 
pagne jars of life. 

No piston churns the laundered beds 
to summon light. 

Remember this: 

Machines are dead, and dead must 
ever lie, 

If Man so much as shuts up half one eye. 



“Instant” Librarians 

Suppose someone wants information concerning automatic typesetting machines 
for newspapers. Envision the following series of events: 

The person goes to the nearest console—very likely in a nearby office. If he 
or she is engaged in extensive research requiring frequent library consultation, 
it might be in his own office. He establishes his right to use the information- 
transfer system by typing his library identification number, indicating that he 
wishes to communicate with the library information storage and retrieval 
system. The system announces that it is prepared to work with him by display¬ 
ing READY on a TV-like screen. The dialogue may then continue along these 

user: Search for information on automatic typesetting machines. 
system: A search is being made for information on automatic typesetting 
machines. It will be completed within fifteen seconds. 

(After fifteen seconds, the dialogue resumes.) 

system: Two hundred documents found. Do you wish their titles displayed? 
user: No. Search only for documents published since 1965. 
system: Five documents found. Do you wish their titles displayed? 
user: Yes. 

system: (The system now displays the author, title, publication data, and 
identification numbers of the five documents on the console screen. Three turn 
out to be journal articles; two are books.) 
user: Print out the displayed information. 

system: (The system now prints authors, titles, and publication data on paper, 
thus giving the user a permanent copy for his retention.) 
user: Display technical levels of these documents. (User points to the docu¬ 
ment numbers on console screen, using his light pen.) 
system: 1689 is a primer. 8219 and 76349 report on recent research. 
user: Display the abstracts of these documents. (User points to 8219 and 

system: (Displays the two abstracts on console screen.) 

user: What is the availability of the full text of this document? (User points 
to 8219.) 

system: 8219 is available on microfilm and in bound bolume. Volume is on 
loan. It is due back in three days. 


At this point, the user may wish to examine the complete text of the article. 

He then may do one of several things. 

For a small fee, he may obtain, almost immediately for his permanent reten¬ 
tion, either a duplicate of the microfilmed article or full-page prints derived 
from the microfilm. Or he may choose to scan the article first on a TV-like 
screen before he makes his decision to purchase prints. 

In either case, techniques now under development will enable him to get 
full-page prints at a station near his office. If he isn't in a hurry, he may wait 
for the bound copy. 

The Great Data Famine 


One of the major problems we face in the 1970s is that so many computers 
will be built in the next decade that there will be a shortage of data to feed 

Prof. Heinrich Applebaum, director of the Computer Proliferation Center 
at Grogbottom, has voiced concern about the crisis and has urged a crash 
program to produce enough data to get our computers through the seventies. 

“We didn't realize/' the professor told me, "that computers would absorb 
so much information in such a fast period of time. But if our figures are 
correct, every last bit of data in the world will have been fed into a machine 
by Jan. 12, 1978, and an information famine will follow, which could spread 
across the world." 

"It sounds serious," I said. 

"It is serious," he replied. "Man has created his own monster. He never 
realized when he invented the computer that there would not be enough 
statistics to feed it. Even now, there are some computers starving to death 
because there is no information to put into them. At the same time, the birth 
rate of computers is increasing by thirty percent a year. Barring some sort of 
world-wide holocaust, we may soon have to find data for 30,000,000 computers 
with new ones being born every day." 

"You make it sound so frightening." 

"It is frightening," Prof. Applebaum said. "The new generation of computers 
is more sophisticated than the older generation, and the computers will refuse 
to remain idle just because there is nothing to compute, analyze, or calculate. 
Left to their own devices, the Lord only knows what they will do." 

"Is there any solution, professor?" 

"New sources of data must be found. The government must expand, and 
involved studies must be thought up to make use of the computers' talents. 

The scientific community, instead of trying to solve problems with computers, 
must work on finding problems for the computers to solve." 

"Even if the scientists really don't want the answer?" 

"Naturally. The scientific community invented the computer. Now it must 
find ways of feeding it. I do not want to be an alarmist, but I can see the day 
coming when millions of computers will be fighting, for the same small piece 
of data, like savages." 

"Is there any hope that the government will wake up to the data famine in 

"We have a program ready to go as soon as the bureaucrats in Washington 
give us the word. We are recommending that no computer can be plugged in 
more than three hours a day." 

"We are also asking the government for $50 billion to set up data manufac¬ 
turing plants all over the country. This data, mixed with soy beans, could feed 
hundreds of thousands of computer families for months. 

"And finally we are advocating a birth control program for computers. By 
forcing a computer to swallow a small bit of erroneous information, we could 
make it sterile forever, and it would be impossible for it to reproduce any more 
of its kind." 

"Would you advocate abortions for computers?" I asked Applebaum. 

"Only if the Vatican's computer gives us its blessing." 














•*■** NO COMMA-STATEMENT 10 ***’ 







What’s In a Robot 


Far from being a mechanical man—a "Robbie the Robot" with quasi-human 
qualities—an industrial robot is actually little more than a mobile arm, attached 
to a chunky box and ending in some kind of a grip. In fact, says E. }. Van 
Horne, general manager of the AMF Versatran division, Warren, Mich. "A 
robot is what your kids watch on 'Lost in Space' on television—the devices we 
build are so much simpler that we prefer the term 'programmable manipulator.'" 

Under either name, the devices may look like anything from a Sherman tank 
turret (Unimation Inc's Unimate) to an assembly of telescoping pipes (the 
Autospace robot). The manipulators are designed to do simple, repetitive tasks, 
often in circumstances that would endanger or kill human operators. For in¬ 
stance, they may handle parts that are red-hot or icy cold, in poisonous, cor¬ 
rosive, or dusty atmospheres, or they may operate in conjunction with other 
machines, such as a punch press or stamping mill, that could injure a careless 

Like numerically controlled machine tools, industrial robots may operate 
either point to point or follow continuous paths. A point-to-point robot will 
move a part in the most direct path from one production point to the next— 
perhaps transferring a finished part from a die-casting machine to a moving 
conveyor belt. Its positioning accuracy can be as fine as a couple of mils. A 
continuous-path robot must, on the other hand, follow a specific contour be¬ 
cause it performs its task as it moves—perhaps spraying enamel on bathroom 

Most robots are capable of interacting with and even controlling the 
machines with which they operate. For example, a stamping machine may 
signal the robot that it has stamped out a part. This signal prompts the robot 
to remove the part and, in turn, signal the machine to stamp out the next part. 
Then it places the stamped part at the next work point and signals the 
machine there to start its operating cycle. A single robot, if it's large and 
sophisticated enough, may even be programmed to reach in and serve two or 
three or possibly more tools. 

The hand at the end of the robot's arm consists of finger-like clamping 

devices for holding onto parts and assemblies. It may incorporate single or 
double sets of fingers, or may have a vacuum or magnetic pickups for handling 
flat sheets of glass or metal. Often, the robot is designed so that different hands 
may be attached for different applications. And this can even be done auto¬ 
matically rather than by a human operator. 

The robot manipulators possess varying degrees of freedom, depending upon 
their design. A robot arm may be able to move vertically and horizontally or to 
rotate its hand, or grip. The hand itself, besides opening and closing, will 
rotate, yaw, and pitch as if it had a wrist. In addition, some robots, like 
Versatran, have still another axis of motion—mounted on tracks, instead of on a 
fixed base, they can position themselves at points along the tracks. The result 
is that robots move in as few as two axes or as many as five or six and, depend¬ 
ing upon how the manufacturer defines them, even eight. 

The control part of the robot system consists of at least three basic 
elements—an actuating source of energy, some kind of memory, and a pro¬ 
grammer that sets the proper sequences. * 

The actuator moves the arm from place to place. It may be pneumatic, as 
in the Auto-Place robot, which makes use of the high-pressure air found in 
many machine shops. If electro-hydraulic, as in the Unimate and Versatran 
robots, it is capable of more power than a pneumatic system and, because it is 
“stiffer” and can be under servo control, it has generally greater repeatable 
accuracies. Finally, some of the newer robots such as the minicomputer-con¬ 
trolled robot developed by Sundstrand Corp., use electric motors with gearing 
to reduce the motor speed and increase torque (an all-electric design, though 
slower, is said to require less maintenance because it has no hydraulic or 
pneumatic valves and produces less noise and smoother movements with less 
overshoot than the others). 

In moving to a position the robot arm may be under open-loop or, in the 
more sophisticated units, closed-loop servo control. 

To keep track of the positions to which the arm must move, the robot also 
must have some sort of memory—a rotating magnetic drum, the plated-wire 
memory of the Unimate, potentiometers, as in the Versatran or Liberator 
machines, or the MOS shift registers of a new control system from Sweden's 
Retab. In addition, there are the solid-state memories associated with mini¬ 
computers used in Sundstrand Corp.'s robot, or the minicomputer-directed 
machine built around a Unimate by Japan's Kawasaki Corp. 

Also to be counted under the memory classification are the simple limit 
switches and preset mechanical stops of most of the lower-price robots. The 
robot merely moves in a direction until it clanks up against a mechanical stop, 
whereupon actuating power is turned off. 

Finally, there is a programming section that directs the robot through its 

sequence of motions and the functions that are to be performed at each stop. 
In a minicomputer-directed system this, together with memory, is handled in 
the mini. In the Unimate, solid-state logic reads information off the plated-wire 
memory. In the Versatran and many other robots, pins stuck into an electronic 
patch or matrix board, which is then interfaced with relay or IC logic, fix the 
sequence of operations. 

Actually, there is no shortage of suitable electronics (or electrical) hardware 
to function as amplifiers, memory, comparators, relays, analog-to-digital con¬ 
verters, encoders, and so on, in robots. The only problem is to make reasonably 
economic choices. 

Vending Machine Computation 

The computer vending machine is 
probably the replacement for the 
pinball machine of the past. In¬ 
stead of hanging around the pin¬ 
ball alley or pool hall, the next 
group of teenagers will probably 
be hanging around the local com¬ 
puter hall. 

Coin-operated computers are relatively new, but are definitely established and 
increasing. In 1972 a coin-operated minicomputer was installed in a library in 
Monterey, California. For twenty-five cents you can use the computer to do 
homework or personal calculations. Students have come to like and enjoy using 

The Hennepin County Library in Minnesota offers the use of computers to 
anyone with a library card. The library is hooked into a computer system that 
is used by the local school system. People can use supplied programs or write 
their own programs on the computer terminals. This library views computers as 
a logical extension of the information services libraries should provide. And if 
computer terminals become inexpensive enough, libraries of the future may 
offer them to the public to check out. 

Menlo Park, California, near the Stanford University Campus, is the home 
of the People's Computing Center. Anyone can go there and rent a computer 
terminal for $3.00 an hour. Users can play games, do homework, or write 
programs. The terminals are hooked up to Hewlett-Packard's time-sharing 
system which uses the language BASIC. These terminals are used by everyone 
from teenagers to business people. 

At the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California, anyone can use a 
computer, no questions asked, for $1.00 an hour. People using these terminals 
are free to play games, draw computer-aided pictures, or write programs. Staff 
are around to monitor the room and answer questions. 

Vending machine computing may be still new, but is definitely established. 
The computer vending machins is probably the replacement for the pinball 
machine of the past. Instead of hanging around the pinball alley or pool hall, 
the next group of teenagers will probably be hanging around the local com¬ 
puter hall. 


Berkeley, E. C. Giant Brains: Or the Machines That Think. 
New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1961. 

Belden, T. G., and M. R. Belden. The Lengthening Shadow: 
The Life of Thomas J. Watson. Boston: Little, Brown and 
Co., 1962. 

Bernstein, Jeremy. The Analytical Engine. New York: 
Random House, 1963. 

Eames, Charles, and Ray Eames. A Computer Perspective. 
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973. 

Goldstine, Herman. The Computer From Pascal to von 
Neumann. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, J972. 

Gilder, Jules. “Space-age Technology Opening New Doors 
for the Blind, Deaf and Crippled.” Electronic Design , 
25, 1972. 

Gruenberger, Fred. Computers and Communications— 
Toward a Computer Utility. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 
Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. 

Martin, James. Telecommunications and the Computer. 
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1969. 


1. Some of the popular electronics magazines have had 
articles on building your own computer. Check around 
and find out how much it would cost and how difficult 
it would be to build a small computer. Maybe you 
will want to try it as a class project. See Popular Elec¬ 
tronics , January 1975. 

2. Find out how an analog computer differs from a digital 


3. Try to find out what safeguards are used in “money” 
machines such as bill changers, automatic bank tellers, 
and rapid-transit fare collection devices. 

4. Locate the facility nearest your home where anyone can 
gain access to a computer time-sharing system as dis¬ 
cussed in the article “Vending Machine Computation.” 

5. What are the essential differences between a desk 
calculator and an electronic computer? 

6. What are the essential differences between the human 
brain and an electronic computer? 

7. Make some comparisons between human memory and 
computer memory. Mention desirable and undesirable 
characteristics of each. 

8. Describe how a desk calculator or slide rule works. 

9. Determine a unit that can be used to describe physical 
size in a computer. Find data indicating how this unit 
has decreased in size in the last four generations of 
computers. Can you predict future size decreases by 
plotting a curve using this data? What type of curve 
does the plot give you? 

Orr, William D. Conversational Computers. New York: 
John Wiley & Sons, 1968. 

Rogers, William. THINK: A Biography of the Watsons and 
IBM. New York: Stein and Day, 1969. 

Rosenberg, J. M. The Computer Prophets. New York: 
Macmillan, 1969. 

Rosenblatt, Alfred. “Robots Handling More Jobs on Indus¬ 
trial Assembly Lines,” Electronics , July 19, 1973. 

Sackman, Harold. Mass Information Utilities and Social 
Change. Philadelphia: Auerbach Publishing, Inc., 1971. 

Sackman, Harold, and Norman Nie. The Information Utility 
and Social Change. Montvale, N.J.: AFIPS Press, 1970. 

Sprague, Richard E. Information Utilities. Englewood Cliffs, 
N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1969. 

Wise, T. A. “IBM's $5,000,000,000 Gamble,” Fortune , Sep¬ 
tember, October 1966. 

10. Find out what input/output devices are presently used 
with computers. One way to find this information is to 
scan computer-related periodicals. 

11. Learn how to keypunch. Keypunch your name, the 
alphabet, the numerals from 0 to 10, and punctuation 
characters on a card. 

12. Learn how to use a card sorter. Do the following: 

a) count cards 

b) sort numeric 

c) sort alphabetic 

d) sort a numeric field in descending sequence 

13. Trace the recent history of the pocket calculator. See 
how its price has decreased and its capacity has in¬ 
creased. What price and capability do you predict for 
these devices for the near future. What about twenty 
years from now? 

14. Here are some factors that can be used to indicate how 
computers have improved in the past four generations: 

a) memory capacity 

b) add time 

c) fetch time 

Find some information of present and past capabilities 
and plot a curve. What type of curve did you get? Can 
you predict future improvements? 

15. Outline the major changes in one of the following: 

a) the four generations of computers 

b) the development of computer hardware 

c) the development of computer software 

16. Describe the architecture of a contemporary computer. 

Compare present computer architecture to previous 
computer architecture. 

17. Write a paper indicating how the components of 
computers have changed in the last thirty years. 

18. One favorite sport of computer people is "IBM watch¬ 
ing/' Find several articles in current periodicals about 
IBM and write a report. One good place to start is 
"IBM and All the Dwarfs/' New Times Magazine 
(July 29, 1973). Fortune magazine has also had 
numerous articles on IBM (the August 1968 issue, for 

19. There were less than 1000 computers in the United 
States in 1956. By 1967 there were over 30,000. Draw 
a chart indicating how the numbers of computers fyas 

grown over the past thirty years. Project the number 
of computers in the United States in the next thirty 
years. Find out how many people work in the computer 
field, and at what types of work. 

20. A country's standard of living is often judged by its 
gross national product (GNP). Other useful statistics 
are average family income, infant mortality, and literacy 
level. Compare numbers of computers in a country to 
some of the above indicators to see how good the num¬ 
ber of computers would be as an indicator of a country's 
standard of living. 

21. Develop some figures on the change of cost of computa¬ 
tional time in the last twenty years. 




“You are 
an Interfacer 
of Black Boxes” 


Computers surround us, about 50,000 
of them now: just a decade ago there 
were 1700. Most of them are used for 
record-keeping, or “sophisticated 
paper-pushing,” as the industry calls 
it. Ultimately they record almost 
every bit of money that changes 
hands, and they file various items of 
information: where you were born, 
where you want to fly, the numbers 
that you are known by, your vulnera¬ 
bility to direct-mail advertising. 

This is one function, storage and 
retrieval, but computers are also 
capable of making certain kinds of 
decisions. Fdd information, they may 
recommend action and thereby 
regulate refineries, diagnose illnesses, 
and fire retro-rockets. More impor¬ 
tant, they imitate reality. Probably 
the greatest use for computers be¬ 
yond data processing is for the per¬ 
formance of simulations—war games, 
marketing strategies, stress analyses 
of aircraft—which allow the user to 
discover the consequences of an 
action without taking it. 

No one is unaffected by all this, 
but for most of us the computers 
remain remote. They are mildly 
disquieting. It may be hard to take 
threats of the automated society of 
the future seriously, but computers 
say something unpleasant about our 
condition in the present. They are 
incarnate metaphors for the brain, 
and the brain often suffers in com¬ 
parison. So it seems to “most of us.” 
But for an increasing number of 
people computers stand at the center 
of life. 

Perhaps as many as 300,000 
people—the programmers—tell com¬ 
puters what to do. Like computers 
themselves, programmers are mostly 
in their twenties. Their talents are 
indispensable, and they incite the 
economy to lust. However many 
there are, it is generally agreed that 
half again as many could be hired 
now, and twice as many as soon as 
the “fourth generation” machines 
appear. Intelligent voices seek 
programmers on the radio, and the 
want ads suggest rewards, “fringes,” 
and the mystique: 

. . . Programmer, Has Your Ability 
Outgrown the Software? . . . Start 
$18.5-21,000++ . . . $2000 Guar. 
Increase Over Present Earnings for 
4th Generation People Interested in 
Real Time. Time-Sharing . . . Salary 

Open . . . Fly Free . . . Take a Trip 
on Us . . . Stock Options . . . 

I have lately been talking to 
programmers in and around Cam¬ 
bridge, Massachusetts, where the 
buried circuitry of computers and 
computer people that binds any city 
is somewhat more manifest than else¬ 
where because of the universities and 
their spun-off, and symbiotic, research 
enterprises. One such place is the 
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observa¬ 
tory. Smithsonian (which employs 
about twenty-five programmers) tracks 
man-made satellites, studies the 
habits of meteors, and smiles on the 
whims of its employees; once one 
of them tried to program a theory 
of the creation of the universe, but 
“only got about ten micro-seconds 
into the job.” (“Micro-second” is a 
millionth of a second. As a way of 
saying speed, it's being replaced by 
“nano-second,” a billionth; “fempto- 
second,” a trillionth, is on the way.) 

I went to Smithsonian to see 
Rudolf Loeser, a 1971 graduate of 
Harvard and Smithsonian's senior 
programmer. Before I got to him, 
however, I saw his computer, on the 
first floor of Smithsonian's offices in 
an industrial park. It was a stylish- 
looking machine of several great, 
rectangular components, faced in 
blue panels, and it occupied a 
glass-enclosed space that resembled 
an automobile showroom. I had 
never seen a computer before. (In¬ 
creasingly, this is an admission of 
provincialism, even cultural depriva¬ 
tion.) The visible signs of its work 
were whirling reels of magnetic tape 
on one component, and printed 
data—printout—emerging from an¬ 
other, in abrupt chunks. An adoles¬ 
cent occasionally dashed to the 
computer with a reel of tape, and 
replaced one already on the machine, 
trying, it seemed, not to waste the 
computer's time. After watching him 
for several moments I started up to 
Loeser's office. 

The computer I'd seen was 
Control Data 6400, the largest com¬ 
puter (in terms of abilities) in 
Cambridge. “It can perform 800,000 
additions per second,” Rudy Loeser 
told me, “or 200,000 multiplications. 

I don't know how to put that into 
easilv comnrehensible terms. There 


A Nice mach/ne with 


E/NP IT PEN VERS!... 0-K., 

to it/ take Her out tor 
A P/A/T 

are what?—three billion people in 
the world. I suppose if you had 
data on the number of hairs on each 
of their heads, the computer could 
give you the total number in about 
an hour. Perhaps an hour and a 

Loeser, who has a broad, placid 
face and wavy hair, was born in 
Germany, and speaks with a slight 
accent. He speaks quietly, with a 
likeable, if demanding, precision. 

He often pauses before a sentence, 
delivers it quickly, and is silent 
again. He is conscious of being consi¬ 
dered unspontaneous. “Eve changed a 
lot since I was married," he re¬ 
marked. “Before that people used to 
say that I was the most inhuman 
person they had ever met." 

Loeser was at work on a program 
that had occupied most of two years. 
It was called Pandora, and its func¬ 
tion, he said, was to test certain 
hypotheses about the composition of 
the sun. In written form, Pandora 
filled two fat blue binders. 

“We hope we will make some real 
statements about the sun," Loeser 
said. Talking with Loeser at first 
I had a feeling of great separation, 
as if we were two strangers in a 
waterfront bar, each with poignant 
but ineffable stories to tell. He was 
speaking of programming, he gestured 
at a program, but I had little concept 
of what one was. 

“A set of instructions" is a fre¬ 
quently used shorthand way of 
explaining a program. I had read the 
phrase, but when I asked Loeser 
about it he seemed uncomfortable. 

He said that it was not only an 
oversimplification, but “rather 
anthropomorphic." It appeared, he 
felt, to imply that the programmer 

had nnlv fn rlpsrrihp his dpsirps and 

the understanding computer would 
enact them. 

But if you look at a programmer 
“behavioristically," that is, in fact, 
surprisingly close to what happens. 

His work is done on paper. What 
he writes often appears as “instruc¬ 
tions," indeed as orders. Although 
Loeser's own work, he said diffidently, 
was not very accessible to an outsider, 
everyday programs closely resemble 
the experience they describe. For 
example, a typical program for 
balancing a checking account begins 
“Get Check." 








Allowing for some abbreviations, this 
appears to be written in English. 
Actually, it is written in a language 
called COBOL, which stands for 
“COmmon Business Oriented Lan¬ 
guage," the universal tongue used 
for computerized bill-collecting. 
COBOL contains a great many 
words of pure English and some 
coinages. When you watch a pro¬ 
grammer jotting it down, you might 
think he could embellish his instruc¬ 
tions at will, but not so. Every 
computer language has a strictly 
delimited vocabulary and a rigorous 

COBOL is one of the easiest of 
literallv hundreds of comnuter 

languages. Rudy Loeser works in one 
called FORTRAN (FORmula 
TRANslator), which is useful for 
expressing mathematical and scientific 
problems. Loeser can use several 
other languages; “learning a new 
one," he said, “is almost a trivial 
matter." (But a great many program¬ 
mers make a living knowing, or car¬ 
ing, about only one. According to 
most computer people, the ability to 
pick up another language “just by 
reading the manual" is one mark of 
a gifted programmer.) Loeser men¬ 
tioned some of the rarer languages, 
which have names as inviting as 
Saskatchewan towns: JOVIAL, JOSS, 
own, FORTRAN, is more obscure- 
looking than COBOL, partly because 
it refers to less concrete phenomena. 
“I imagine someone processing Diners 
Club bills has a firm sense of reality," 
he said. “But in my case the connec¬ 
tion with reality is generally . . . not 

He showed me a small section 
called a “subroutine" of his vast 
program. Its function was simply 
to compare two numbers and mark 
them with an asterisk. 

$ (i, ITV, MARK) 



MARK = lH 

IF (i-itv) 101, 100, 101 

100 MARK = lH* 



Computer talk rapidly escalates out 
of sight. Aside from the arcane com¬ 
puter languages themselves, ordinary 
conversation among programmers 
often occurs in a Drivate toneue. It 

is nearly a subroutine of English, 
and listening to it means listening 
to familiar syntax, to not wholly 
foreign words, but to meanings that 
remain entirely obscure. My eyes fell 
on one of Loeser's interdepartmental 

To change fatal error 78, bad data, to 
non-fatal error user must initialize regis¬ 
ters in the routine with a single call to 
BLISS prior to any read or decodes 
. . . SCROG is updated to agree with 

But these are all symbols, and 
you are willing to believe they stand 
for something. 

One thing that was bothering 
me, however, was the distance be¬ 
tween the programmer and the com¬ 
puter. We were sitting a floor above 
the machine, and I found it sur¬ 
prising to realize how little a pro¬ 
grammer, who is easily imagined in a 
tense posture next to a computer, 
need actually see of one. What 
connection did the language have 
with the computer? Loeser explained 
that that was the reason he had been 
reluctant to call the program a "set 
of instructions.” Its written form is 
only one of several states a program 
occupies in its transition from the 
imagination of the programmer to 
the memory of the computer. "It's an 
interface between the programmer— 
the human being—and the com¬ 
puter,” Loeser said, using an omni¬ 
present bit of computer lingo. 

"Interface” refers to anything 
that mediates between disparate 
items: machinery, people, thought. 
The equipment that makes the 
computer's work visible to the user 
is often called an "interface,” and 
the word is used highly metaphor¬ 
ically, as in "the interface between 
man and the computer, between the 
scientist and society.” 

Computers are troubling not 
just because we don't understand 
them (most of us deal with many 
machines we don't understand) but 
also because we suspect that we 
finally couldn't understand them. 

And we are, most of us, right. 
Reassuringly, this is even true of 
many programmers. "It's possible to 
be a nine-to-five programmer,” he 
said, "and never think about what 
happens within the computer. To 
some programmers it might as well 

be a hamster on a treadmill generat¬ 
ing the output. The computer—for 
many purposes—may be thought of as 
a black box.” 

A black box, Loeser explained, 
is anything considered in terms of 
input and output, without worrying 
about processes. It may refer to parts 
of a computer, or parts of a program. 
The idea is not so complicated: to 
simplify by abstracting an intricate 
system into manageable components. 
But it has a particular relevance 
among computers, where everything, 
looked at too closely, takes on a 
bellygripping complexity. "Black 
boxes” are as handy a concept as 
"interface”: "interfacer of black 
boxes” is not a bad definition of a 

“Eventually we will build a ma¬ 
chine we don’t understand.” 

I asked Loeser if he could tell 
me something about what happened 
in the mind's black boxes when he 
was working on a programming 
problem. He said that he usually let 
the problem rest in the back of his 
mind, turning to it for only a half 
hour at a time, over a week or so, 
counting on a solution to begin to 
generate itself, before he began to 
bear down hard. Even when the 
answer is at hand, he said, it is never 
entirely comprehensible: "Often 
you've deluded yourself into thinking 
that you have a clear, simultaneous 
understanding of the problem, but 
you dou't. It's impossible to see the 
plan as a whole. I often see it as a 
ticker tape passing through my mind. 
I know I'm there if I can follow 
each step as it goes by.” 

Rudy Loeser is spontaneously 
called "a true professional” by his 
colleagues, and I wondered what that 
meant, how he felt about the pro¬ 
grammer and his "interface” with 

He said, "It's the fin thing' now 
to characterize programming as a 
profession. But I'm not sure it's 
justified. It's errant nonsense to call 
some novice just out of programming 
school a 'professional.' And most 
programmers become dominated by 
their salaries when they find they can 
extort almost anything they want. 

I'm afraid you don't find many 
altruistic programmers.” 

Loeser sees the computer as a 
"tool.” "Of course it is by far the 
most versatile tool we have, and it 
sets its users apart from other tool- 
users. The great source of fear about 
the machine is that people don't 
understand them. People don't 
understand us either, so they mistrust 
us. . . . 

"I am concerned. But not about 
the computers—about the motives of 
the people who use them. The night¬ 
mare vision, of course, is hordes 
of militarists running rampant. You 
won't see it happening if only the 
engineers become really concerned. 
Man could do the right thing, but 
will he? It depends on the extent 
to which we become involved. We 
must commit ourselves with deeds. 
And we don't, not enough. How do I 
feel? I feel mostly apprehensive- 
apprehensive and guilty. 

"Eventually we will build a 
machine we don't understand. . . . 

At one point we will wonder if we 
should rely entirely on biology for 
the continuance of human culture. 
Machines may be made partly of 
living material, for humane and 
emotional functions. . . . And 
someday we will pass the torch on 
to the machines.” 

One of the broad distinctions that 
programmers make among themselves 
is between "applications” and "sys¬ 
tems” programmers. Rudy Loeser is 
purely an "applications” programmer, 
which means that he uses the com¬ 
puter to solve problems from the 
world (or, in his case, the universe) of 
people and things. "Systems” pro¬ 
grammers worry about the programs 
built into the machine, "the soft¬ 
ware,” which allows the computer to 
receive other programs, to switch 
from program to program, and in 
general to keep itself operating 
efficiently. Aaron Kronenberg is a 
young programmer with a special 
interest in systems work. 

I met Kronenberg at Abt Asso¬ 
ciates, a Cambridge think-tank, 
specializing in "scientific solutions 
to social problems.” Abt was founded 
just four years ago, and it has had 
spectacular success: its billings have 
doubled each year and now approach 
$4 million. It is full of elan: extra¬ 
ordinary-looking girls in pantsuits and 
nano-skirts hurry through the white- 
carpeted hall, and at closing time 

bearded young men in lumberjack 
shirts throw Frisbees. It is as if 
everyone's college-age children had 
come in to see where their fathers 

Kronenberg, who is himself only 
twenty-three, has a reputation for 
brilliance and eccentricity. ("See 
Kronenberg," one of his colleagues 
said, "his head is in some interesting 
places. He used to be a disc jockey 
you know.") He weighs well over 
two hundred pounds, and his usual 
uniform is tight trousers and a white 
shirt, too small, straining open at 
the neck. He wears thick glasses, has 
troubled black hair, and the day I 
met him he wore a button that 
declared, "I am a rat fink!" 

"So you want to learn about 
computer," said Kronenberg, who 
often speaks an article-less Indian 
patois. "I give short magical mystery 
tour." We went to his office, where, 
on the blackboard, he gave me an 
overview of the computer's functions 
—often addressing the imaginary 
machine as “Hey, baby," or "This 
yo-yo here"—and of his own duties. 

Most of his work, he said, involved 
consulting to companies whose com¬ 
puters have run amok, and whose 
regular programmers are no longer 
able to understand them. (When 
computers hit a snag they often print 
out dense reams of digits, which 
represent all the data that's been 
given to them. This is called a 
"dump." Searching out the error in a 
dump is referred to as "debugging," 
and it occupies much of any pro¬ 
grammer's time.) Kronenberg's con¬ 
sulting assignments tend to be tense, 
as the expensive machinery sits idle. 
"Essentially, I'm a rescue service," 
Kronenberg says. "They fly you out 
to California and parachute you into 
Fresno and say you will return in 
seventy-two hours, you will bring 
program. It generate ulcer." 

Kronenberg's consulting fee—Abt's 
charge for his service—climbed to 
about $400 a day as he became 
better known in the business. His 
own base salary, he said, was $18,400, 
with bonuses and stock options that 
brought his income to about $21,000 
a year. Programmers may, if they 
choose, move around a great deal, 
and many of them do. Kronenberg 
was weighing two offers: "I hope to 
push my salary up a couple of figures 

anyway." He said that he'd been 
talking about it to his boss, Clark 
Abt, whom he calls Leader. "With 
offers I have, Leader listen." 

Kronenberg's self-confidence some¬ 
times irritates his colleagues. ("I 
could strangle him," one girl said. 
"Obviously he was hired for his 
ability, not his personality.") But 
Clark Abt said, "Ron has a few rough 
edges, but they'll smooth off. He 
has great growth potential." 

Kronenberg, who says of himself, 
"I'm probably the weirdest guy in 
this business," and whose computer 
recognizes him by the password 
MADMAN, is atypical in many ways, 
especially in his education. Most 
programmers have at least a bach¬ 
elor's degree, but Kronenberg is a 

college dropout. He entered 
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 
intending to become a physicist, but 
left in boredom after two years. 

(Not before he had taken some 
programming courses, though, and 
founded a campus "computer 
society.") After RPI, he became a 
disc jockey. As Art Matthews, he was 
morning man for WXKW, Sarasota, 
and he can give a convincing re¬ 
production of his radio self, as he 
did one afternoon at Abt, lowering 
his voice and dropping his head to 
his chest: "Movin' and groovin' with 
Big Daddy Madman Matthews on 
soooooo-oulful 1600 WXKW 76 
degrees in the big bag outside and 
time for: Muuuuu-sic!" 

Meanwhile, he was programming 

“There’s a computer mystique- 
people are afraid of computers. 
But they shouldn’t be. Computers 
are good guys.” 

for the city of Sarasota, and he was 
becoming more involved in com¬ 
puters, and he realized that he had 
highly marketable skills. “Next 
step. Whirlwind coast-to-coast tour/ 7 
He ended up working at the Yale 
University computer center, where he 
helped set up a “time-sharing sys¬ 
tem/ 7 and then he came to Abt. 

“Time-sharing 77 is Kronenberg 7 s 
particular interest. It is a way of 
accommodating several users, with 
the appearance of simultaneity, in a 
single computer. The users may be 
spread throughout a city, state, or the 
world. They communicate with the 
computer through “terminals, 77 which 
are connected to the machine by 
telephone lines. The terminals 
resemble IBM electric typewriters; in 
fact, most of them are IBM type¬ 
writers with some serious modifica¬ 
tions. The effective difference is that 
the machine types back. At Kronen- 
berg 7 s terminal, when he typed in 
MADMAN, it typed back READY. A 
similar interface is the graphic 
display terminal, like a TV screen, 
which also interacts with the user, 
who may enter data by means of a 
“light-pen, 77 like a small flashlight. 

The distinctive thing about time¬ 
sharing, from the programmer's 
viewpoint, is that his transactions 
with the machine take place in “real 
time 77 ; that is, the computer interacts 
with him step by step. If he makes 
an error, he doesn't have to wait 
for his whole deck of cards to be read 
by the machine to find out; the 
computer calls attention to the 
mistake in its next breath. 

Time-sharing represents only a 
small portion of the computer 
industry now, but it is growing. The 
terminals may be rented for very 
little, though the charges for an hour 
of the computer's time run to 
several hundred dollars. Time-sharing 
makes the machines more accessible 
to human beings—“conversational 77 is 
the industry's word for the rela¬ 
tionship—and it promises new uses 
for computers. Already, time-sharing 
systems enable airlines to confirm 
reservations immediately. When the 

day comes (it's often predicted) that 
everyone has a “computer in his 
kitchen," it will really be a time¬ 
sharing terminal, able to retrieve 
material from the Library of Congress 
or the New York Times archives, to 
predict one's future tax problems, or 
to enact marital game theory. 

Time-sharing systems are, like any 
computer operation, only as good as 
the programmer who readies them for 
nonprogrammers. Kronenberg is work¬ 
ing on methods of increasing the 
machines' ability to respond to every¬ 
day language. “I'm interested in the 
machine-user interface," he says. 

“I'm trying to work out ways to 
program the machine so a sociologist 
can sit down and talk sociology talk 
to it and the machine will answer 
back in sociology talk. There's a 
computer mystique—people are afraid 
of computers. But they shouldn't be. 
Computers are good guys." 

Kronenberg is totally absorbed in 
computers. His habit, he said, was 
dinner at a delicatessen near Abt 
and work long into the night, and 
work at home as well. Some everyday 
concerns find him oblivious: he 
doesn't drive a car, he walks in rain 
or freezing temperatures without a 
coat, his dates sometimes begin at 

The day I saw it, his big apart¬ 
ment in the South End, a hiply 
fashionable neighborhood of old brick 
houses with bow fronts, had a 
scarcely inhabited look. But in his 
bedroom, an anarchy of bedsheets 
and books, Kronenberg kept a time¬ 
sharing terminal so that he might 
jump from bed and type out the 
solution to a problem. The terminal 
rents for $115 (by special arrange¬ 
ment, the time comes free), and he 
spends $150 a month for books, 
“mostly in the field, to keep up." 

Not alone among programmers, 
Kronenberg is worried about main¬ 
taining his own parity with “the 
state of the art," not about the 
purported evils of automation. “I 
don't think the computers will put 
me out of business for a few years," 
he says. “I don't think they'll 
appreciate beauty in quite the way I 
do, but if so, a certain joy will be 
gone out of life. But it's a long way 
off. And anyway I doubt that the 
machine ever will be a good disc 

I had talked at length to two 
programmers. They didn't seem much 
alike, and I spent a couple of days in 
assorted computer installations, look¬ 
ing for a commonality. It was a futile 
search, of course, and actually Rudy 
Loeser and Ron Kronenberg, despite 
their styles, did share something: 
they were near the top of a profes¬ 
sion that contains great variations in 
ability. If there is anything that com¬ 
puter people seem to agree upon, it 
is that the difference between an 
ordinary programmer and a good one 
is the difference between the runway 
and the air. “A good programmer 
isn't worth two median ones," one 
computer executive said, “he's worth 

At one level, it is possible for 
many people to become program¬ 
mers. I talked to a programmer who 
did payrolls for a hospital, and asked 
him why he got into the field. “Be¬ 
cause I failed in the restaurant 
business," he said. And in fact, we 
will probably all be programmers of a 
sort in a few years, with the prolifera¬ 
tion of computer terminals in the 

Programmers in more recherche 
spots look down at the data-proces- 
sors in business. A university pro¬ 
grammer said that “most people in 
banks are doing things that probably 
just don't need to be done," referring 
to the possibility of standardized 
software to perform routine work. 
Nevertheless, the banks represent in 
miniature a world in which com¬ 
puters and their human aides sit 
uneasily in a traditional setting. 

I talked to George McQuilken, 
twenty-five, an IBM systems engineer 
at the State Street Bank. (IBM sells 
the full-time service of systems engi¬ 
neers along with the computer; the 
SE's live at the installation, consul¬ 
tants to the regular programmers.) 
McQuilken said, “Ask a banker what 
his biggest problem is today and he'll 
say computers. Ten years ago he 
would have said paper work. Com¬ 
puters cost too much, and to run 
them he has to hire a bunch of kids, 
at fifteen and seventeen a year, and 
they have beards and rotten 

The programmers at the bank, in 
fact, were conventional, if not bank- 
erly, in appearance, but Bradford 
Tripp, vice president for computer 

operations, warned that "one kook 
can min it for everyone/’ as a board 
member comes through and says, "So, 
you’ve got them here too.” It is true 
anyway that the bank’s programmers 
can sometimes achieve an indepen¬ 
dent style. I was introduced to one 
programmer working on a problem 
more complex than check processing, 
a financial simulation. I asked him if 
he could tell me something about it. 
He looked saddened; and after a 
silent moment he turned and walked 

Somewhat surprisingly, even in 
their own milieu, programmers are 
found disquieting. "They’re a little 
like low-level diplomats,” said 
Professor Joseph Weizenbaum, a 
computer scientist at MIT. "They 
don’t have any real decision-making 
power, but it ends up that they’re 
making all the decisions, simply by 
telling you what you can and can’t 
do. And they feel misunderstood, by 
people 'up there,’ which gives them a 
cliquish sense of professional pride.” 

Weizenbaum feels that program¬ 
mers are largely of a distinct person¬ 
ality type, which tends to be a distor¬ 
tion of the qualities that make good 
scientists in general. 

"I’m talking about a universally 
recognized phenomenon. People get 
hooked. They begin to behave in a 
way that resembles addiction. They 
refuse food. They refuse their girl¬ 
friends. I’m quite serious. The word 
'compulsion’ isn’t far removed; in 
fact, it’s correct. 

"When a programmer finally gets 
his program perfected, what does he 
do? He sabotages it. I don’t mean he 
literally, consciously wrecks it. But he 
goes in and says: 'This can be done 
better!’ So he destroys what he’s 
done and gets into a terrible panic, 
and then he’s happy again. 

"He’s just like a compulsive 
gambler. He’s not interested in win¬ 
ning but in keeping the game going. 
Why? He’s emotionally involved in a 
struggle for control. These people 
have suffered a major defeat some¬ 
time in their struggle for control. 

They feel they can’t achieve the kind 
of power they need. They have given 
up the real world and begin to oper¬ 
ate in a magic world in which they 
believe they can be omnipotent.” 

Weizenbaum is a member of 
Project MAC, MIT’s huge computer 

sciences program. (MAC is a double 
acronym: "multiple access computer”; 
"machine-aided cognition.”) The 
project is credited, among other 
things, with most of the develop¬ 
mental work in time-sharing. MIT, 
probably the most computerized 
university in the world, has forty-odd 
computers of various sizes and 
hundreds of time-sharing terminals. 
Some knowledge of programming be¬ 
longs in almost every undergraduate’s 
repertory; the elementary course in 
programming, "Introduction to 
Automatic Computation,” attracts 
more students than any other at the 
school. This year under the direction 
of Robert Fenichel, a young professor 
of electrical engineering, the course 
has begun to be taught by machine. 
Fenichel calls his automated course 
TEACH. At the beginning of the 
term students meet and are given a 
mimeographed "handout” that be¬ 
gins "You should expect to have 
little formal contact with the 
instructors . . .” 

“I’m trying to work out ways to 
program the machine so a 
sociologist can sit down and talk 
sociology talk to it and the ma¬ 
chine will answer back in soci¬ 
ology talk.” 

I had asked Fenichel too about 
the programming mind, and he had 
said, "You’re going to have a hard 
time finding out. The ur-programmer 
relates to his computer the way an 
Iowa farm boy relates to his old 
Ford, and neither one of them can 
tell you much about it. Some of 
them are virtually idiot-savants. Some 
are duo-maniacs: you’ll find a brilliant 
programmer who also knows every¬ 
thing about ballet—and nothing else.” 
Fenichel offered, however, to let 
me get some "hands-on” experience 
by participating in TEACH. 

The machine turned out to be not 
nearly so chilly as might be expected. 
It took me a couple of tries just to 
"login,” but, successful, I was re¬ 
warded with HELLO, and my name! 
At moments TEACH is capable of a 
truly jarring testiness: GARBAGE 
ABLE STATEMENT. But it also 
pleases the student, after his first easy 
problem, with a mildly ironic 

each session it types GOODBYE. 

The transfixing ball of characters 
that flies across the page creating 
printout at the rate of 15 characters 
a second is enough to fascinate the 
human participant. A short way into 
the course you begin to get a whiff as 
well of the mixed sense of power and 
subservience the programmer must 
feel, as the machine performs daz¬ 
zling errands on a correct command, 
or waits silently (LISTENING AT 
LEVEL 1) for you to say a sensible 
thing. I had intended to spend 15 
minutes with TEACH the first day 
and I spent three hours. But I did 
not fully realize its effect until I 
was in my car, where I sat for a 
moment, expecting that machine, 
too, to tell me what to do. 

MIT’s programmers roam through 
the halls of the elegant building at 
Technology Square. Most of them 
are unstructured in appearance; by 
looks they might as easily be mem¬ 
bers of the Electric Cabbage. Artifi¬ 
cial intelligence is on their minds too. 

I talked to Jed Harris, a twenty- 
one-year-old student at MIT on leave 
from Beloit College to take graduate 
courses in computer sciences. He has 
glossy black hair at shoulder-length 
and a full beard, and describes his 
programming work as "like living 
inside a Bach fugue.” "In a few 
years,” Harris remarked, "it will begin 
to feel immoral to tell your computer 
what to do, just like slavery. Watch: 
as soon as the machines begin to 
simulate consciousness on the level 
of a dog, you’ll see protective socie¬ 
ties forming, like the ASPCA.” 

Jerry Yochelson, a 1967 graduate 
of MIT, and a full-time programmer 
at MAC, described the Project’s 
work with chess. He acknowledged 
that he was a devoted player, but 
that he had never beaten the chess 
program in one of MAC’s computers, 
which is now playing a low-level-B 
game and "has beaten many men 
and some computers.” Computer 
scientists like to engage their com¬ 
puters in chess, partly because the 
men themselves like the game, and 
partly because it is so complicated 
that the machine is not simply calcu¬ 
lating multiple possibilities, it is 
enacting strategy. Some of its pro¬ 
grams enable the computer to review 
previous games and analvze errors so 

that it improves upon itself. The 
game is represented on a screen, like 
a television screen; this is a form of 
graphic printout used for a variety of 
purposes. The screen is sensitive to 
light, and to move, the human player 
need only indicate the piece and the 
square with a light-pen. "It's very 
disappointing to lose, 7 ' Yochelson 
said. "You ponder over your move, 
and make it, and then you just sit 
there and watch a piece disappear. 77 

Yochelson foresees without ques¬ 
tion a computerized world in which 
work will be optional, or perhaps 
luxurious. From the window of his 
eighth-floor office one sees the old 
red brick factories of East Cambridge, 
all quite susceptible to computer 
management. "Almost no one will 
have to work in twenty years. The 


Computers have altered the role of 
mathematicians by giving them a tool 
that will do endless computations accu¬ 
rately and quickly. Less than twenty 
years ago a great deal of effort and 
research was put into finding algorithms 
that could compute answers to mathe¬ 
matical problems easily. This was 
important because computations were 
done by hand or at best with a small 
desk calculator. 

Today we have computers to do all 
complicated calculation. The emphasis 
now is to discover algorithms that will 
be accurate and adaptable to the com¬ 
puter. It does not matter how much 
actual arithmetic is involved since a 
computer will do the arithmetic. Thus, 
the computer at one stroke disposed of 
whole fields of mathematics and 
spawned new ones in their place. 


I really hate this damned machine; 
I wish that they would sell it. 

It never does quite what I want, 
But only what I tell it. 

twenty years may be off, but we 7 ll 
have the necessary technology in that 
time, so it becomes a question of 
what most people want. Obviously, it 
will disturb many people. Computers 
pose a threat to people who don't 
want to change. 77 

In the imagined workless society, 
programmers would, of course, not be 
the first to be displaced; but neither 
would they be the last. Almost at 
once, people saw in their work the 
implication that programmers would 
"program themselves out of a job. 77 
It 7 s one of the paradoxes of the 
occupation that twenty years ago it 
scarcely existed, and today it contem¬ 
plates its own obsolescence. 

In the present, programmers 
occupy an ambiguous social role, 

despite the fact that they perform 
some of the most sophisticated chores 
being done in the world and that, 
without them, organized life in the 
United States would choke. They 
seem to be thought of as something 
between professionals and occult 
tradesmen. If programmers 7 merito¬ 
cratic life-style nettles those around 
them, it is because of a sense that 
their ascendance is unearned. Their 
work is as crucial and as inaccessible 
as that of many scientists, and yet 
they stand apart from the educa¬ 
tional hierarchy by which society 
keeps most of its brilliant members 
in bounds. "People have to listen to 
you in this job, 77 Jerry Yochelson 
said, "because they don't know what 
you're doing. I like that. 77 

The Human Mind 

and the Machine "Brain” 

Honeywell Corporation 

How does the so-called machine "brain 77 of the computer stack up against the 
human mind that invented the computer? Is the computer reaching a point 
where it's beginning to outsmart its inventor? 

The computer is simply man's best new tool. And the best minds in the 
computer industry find it impossible to envision a day when the computer or 
any of its descendants will ever replace the uniqueness of the human mind. 

For one thing, the human brain can store about 2Vi million times more in¬ 
formation than today's most advanced computer. The human brain can hold 
some 10 million-million "bits 77 of information—enough to cram the shelves of a 
large library—all tucked away in a 100-cc case. That's about 1/20 of a cubic 
foot, and weighs about 3 pounds. A giant computer—a l-to-4 million bit ma¬ 
chine—requires around 60-70 cubic feet, and holds around 200 pounds of 
memory units. 

A computer can only do what some human being has instructed it to do. A 
computer can't think or feel. It has no creativity, no sensitivity. It has no 
values, principles, or ethical standards. It can never have inspiration, "fire 77 , 
"soul 77 , "spirit 77 —call it what you will. 

But as a tool the computer is absolutely first-rate. What makes it seem be¬ 
wildering to many people is the incredible speed with which it does its work. 

It's as if it worked sideways in time. It simply does one simple thing after an¬ 
other, sequentially, until it completes the chore it's been ordered to do. The 
fastest computers perform functions in billionths of a second. A calculation that 
might take a scientist days to work out with paper and pencil can be handled 
on a computer in a matter of minutes or even seconds. 

Is it possible that some future Super 
Bowl will have a computer picking 
the winning play? Today the rules 1 
actually forbid the use of computers 
during the game, but many football 
teams—both college and professional 
—are using computers to analyze the 
play tendencies in the previous games 
of themselves and their opponents. 

The application of computers to 
athletics is developing quite rapidly. 
Almost every sport has seen some 
application of computers besides 
having the front office running off a 
mailing list for ticket requests. These 
applications have been for the sport 
itself, either to gather and analyze 
data about opponents or to analyze 
and model one's own sport. 

But, you may ask, “Why com¬ 
puters in athletics anyway? What 
effect can they have on human per¬ 
formance?" Besides the economic 
benefits, there are three good reasons 
why computers and computer people 
are getting involved in athletics: 

1. Entertainment. Athletics are fun; 
people enjoy both participating in 
and watching sports, which means 
computer people can easily enjoy 
applications in this area. 

2. More information. Computers 
can make the sport more interesting 
since they provide more information 
to everyone involved (assuming gigo 
isn't involved). 

3. Improved performance. Com¬ 
puters can improve the athletic 
performance and quality by providing 
more information in less time than 
with other methods. 

It should be made quite clear at 
the start that computers or their out¬ 
put are not going to take the place 
of people in any sport. Rather, 
computers simply provide a way to 
organize and analyze the available 
information so that it can be put to 
the best possible advantage of the 

1 Rule 1, Sec. 2, Article 9 of the NCAA Official 
Rules states: “Television replay or monitor equip¬ 
ment are prohibited at the side lines, press box, or 
other locations adjacent to the playing field for 
coaching purposes during the game.” Section (E) of 
Article X (Prohibited Conduct) of the NFL Rules 
states: “No club, nor any coach, representative or 
employee thereof, shall use or employ any mechani¬ 
cal or other equipment or device in connection with 
the staging or playing of any game ...” A check 
with both the NFL and the NCAA confirms that 
these rules include not being able to use computers in 
any form during the progress of a game. 

There are many different types of 
systems which have been developed 
for athletics. Functionally, they may 
be grouped into the following five 

1. Statistical tabulations. This is 
perhaps the simplest type of system, 
since programs are written to read 
various inputs and generate tables of 
summary information. Most of the 
football play analysis programs fall 
under this category. Another example 
is the generation of baseball statistics. 
Many of the reports to be made in 
the 1976 Olympic Games will be 
simple reports listing results, usually 
for the press. 

2. Statistical analysis. This type of 
system is similar to the one above 
except that more mathematical 
analysis is performed. A program 
which evaluates data about athletics 
and tries to rank them according to 
some order is an example. Many of 
the professional football teams have 
rankings of eligible college players 
made each year for the draft which 
make heavy use of statistical analysis. 

3. Information retrieval systems. In 
this type of system, a data base is 
created which contains information 
about the sport and/or athlete. The 
program works like other retrieval sys¬ 
tems in that it allows the user to ask 
various questions and receive answers. 
There has been a system developed 
for rowing by jamco, Inc. that can 
retrieve information about any oars¬ 
man that is contained in the data 
base; e.g., what international cham¬ 
pionships he has rowed in and what 
success he has had. 

4. Real-time systems. This type of 
system employs a computer in real¬ 
time during an athletic event, to 
either monitor the competition itself 
and/or give information concerning 
its progress. A good example here is 
the system currently being employed 
at the Ontario Motor Speedway, 
where an ibm 1130 actually monitors 
each car on every lap and posts the 
current order on displays for the 

5. Modeling. This type of system 
incorporates perhaps the most compli¬ 
cated mathematical and computer 
science aspects of the five, just as 
modeling in other fields can be and 
usually is quite complicated. The 
system which the author has been 

Sports and 
EDP . . . It’s a 
New Ballgame 


Scheduling, simulating, scouting, score- 
keeping—the computer may soon be 
doing it all—except setting the records 

working on to model track running 
training is an example. A program 
which might try to optimize the se¬ 
quence of plays to be used in a foot¬ 
ball game would be another. 

With the functional areas now 
defined, the remainder of the article 
is devoted to describing the actual 
systems which have been developed. 


Football play analysis. One of the 
most widespread applications of 
computers to athletics has been in 
football play analysis systems. Simply 
put, these systems generate statistical 
summaries and analyses of the plays 
of a given football game. The output 
is examined by the coaches to find 
tendencies of a team. 

Coaches may look at summaries of 
another team's offense and/or de¬ 
fense, or they may look at the same 
kind of summaries of their own team. 
If a consistent tendency is found by a 
program, then presumably whoever 
examines the output will recognize 
that tendency; i.e., Team A's coaches 
may examine their own team from 
the previous week(s), just as the next 
opponent (Team B) may also recog¬ 
nize those same tendencies upon 
examination of Team A's play data. 

Football play analysis programs 
are currently being used by many of 
the pro teams. College teams, to 
some extent, are also developing or 
have developed similar systems. Try¬ 
ing to obtain information about these 
systems requires tact and persistence. 
The teams that do have these pro¬ 
grams usually don't like to admit it, 
and when they do, they guard 

descriptions about the program as if 
they made all the difference between 
winning and losing. 

Some of the universities that have 
developed or are developing play 
analysis programs are Kent State, 
Univ. of Pennsylvania, Univ. of 
Tennessee, Dartmouth, use, ucla, 
Washington, and Stanford. Undoubt¬ 
edly, many other college teams have 
or are in the process of developing 
play analysis programs. 

Most typical play analysis systems 
simply read in the play information 
which has been filled out by the 
coach on^a keypunch form. The 
program then sorts by field position, 
formation, and down and distance. 
Various reports are then generated 
summarizing the running and passing 
play tendencies. One of the most 
important aspects of a football play 
analysis program is organization of 
the output information. Too many 
systems generate literally hundreds of 
pages of output, making the analysis 
a difficult task for the coach. 

One of the first organizations that 
developed play analysis programs 
for profit was the recently disbanded 
Computer Applications, Inc., in 
Maryland. William Witzel did most 
of the programming for a system 
employed by the Washington Red¬ 
skins in 1966. His contact with 
Washington was Coach Ed Hughes, 
now head coach for the Houston 
Oilers. Washington no longer uses 
Witzel's system, but the Oilers do. 
Witzel has been involved with other 
systems that are currently being used 
by the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cow¬ 
boys, San Francisco 49ers, and the 

Atlanta Falcons. A published cost 
estimate says the system by Witzel 
runs $7,200 initially and about $150 
per week to actually run it at a local 
service bureau. An article by Witzel 2 
describes his system for play analysis 
and scouting of prospective college 
players for the pro draft (discussed 

More recently, two new systems 
have been developed. The first of 
these is Sam Huff's Computerized 
Scouting System, developed and 
marketed by Jack Frease of Penn. 
Scout Corp. Frease uses an ibm Porta- 
Punch Card (also used in the ibm- 
developed Votomatic system for 
election voting). Frease's system 
accepts up to 40 columns of informa¬ 
tion in a fixed format. This simplicity 
allows him to offer the system to a 
wide range of potential customers for 
a small cost—$20 to $65 per game 
depending on the number of reports 
generated. Each coach has to trans¬ 
form his terminology into that of the 
input form (sometimes a real dif¬ 
ficulty); but the cost factor makes it 
attractive even down to the high 
school level. Their output looks 
similar to other typical play analysis 
programs, but is of a more general 
nature. The coach who desires to 
have specialized output for his staff 
alone can't be helped here. 

The other new approach has been 
made by Dr. Frank Ryan, great quar¬ 
terback for the Cleveland Browns in 
the '60s and now with the Washing¬ 
ton Redskins. Ryan's concept was to 

2 Witzel, William L., “Computer Programs in 
Professional Football.” Modem Data, February 1968. 



Down (yards to go) 






1% of 












% run 

D & D 

% of 











% pass 



D & D 

% of 


















Short (1-0 ) 



















Normal ( 10 ) 



















Long (11+) 



















Short (1-4 ) 



















Normal (5-7 ) 



















Long ( 8 ) 



















Short (1-3 ) 



















Normal (4-6 ) 



















Long ( 7 ) 



















Short ( 1-) 



















Normal (2-5 ) 



















Long ( 6 + ) 


















develop a generalized report generat¬ 
ing system, where the user composes 
commands to generate desired reports 
from the existing data base. His 
system, called probe, was jointly 
developed between Chi Corp. of 
Cleveland and Ryan Computer 
Services. The unusual feature of this 
system is that it is easily adapted to 
applications other than football. In 
fact, their first paying customer was a 
brokerage firm in Cleveland, which 
composes commands to generate 
analyses of stocks. 

The programming of Ryan's 
system involved 10 to 12 people dur¬ 
ing 1970, was coded in Algol 60, and 
is running on a Univac 1108. To use 
probe one defines a data base with a 
syntax called denotes. Data is then 
keypunched and read into the data 
base according to the denotes defini¬ 
tions. Commands to generate the 
desired reports are then accepted. 

The commands key off terms such as 
coordinate (generate an x-y plot), 
display (histograms), list (straight 
lists with sorted fields), and field 
(boxed off areas with occurrences in 
respective areas). 

The application of the probe sys¬ 
tem to football play analysis (called 
pro-probe) is currently being em¬ 
ployed by the Washington Redskins. 
Vince Lombardi believed in the 
usefulness of computer analysis and 
managed to have Ryan traded to 
Washington to work on his play 
analysis system. Lombardi also 
served as a vice-president of Ryan 
Computer Services. 

Another football play analysis sys¬ 
tem that has been accepted by a 
number of teams is the Computer 
Stat program of Apex Data Services 
and headed by Joe Guardino in Los 
Angeles. They handle the play 
analysis for the Rams, ucla, use, 
Fullerton, and Long Beach State. 
Their program was coded in bal for 
the 360/30, and involves over 75 
different routines. The output is 
mostly pictorial in the form of field 
diagrams and graphs. A nice feature 
of this system is that teams can pur¬ 
chase as many of the reports as they 
can afford, with prices ranging from 
$25 to over $300 per week. 

Other football systems. This past 
fall many radio stations throughout 
the country aired a program called 
"The nfl Computer Game of the 

Week." An organization called 
Javelin Sports Corp. obtained a 
franchise from the nfl for the rights 
and access to the weekly statistics. 
They then arranged with Hi-Score 
Enterprises of Encino, California to 
write the necessary programs to 
analyze the statistics and simulate the 
game. According to Ed Mintz, pro¬ 
grammer of the system, the program 
uses the nfl supplied statistics as a 
prediction of the tendencies for the 
current game. The program simply 
calculates an occurrence based on a 
random number normalized over the 
range of possibilities. If a particular 
team runs 67% of their plays a given 
way in a situation, then the program 
will have the play go that same way 
67% of the time. The program was in 
Autocoder and ran on a 360/30 with 
a 1401 emulator. 

Hi-Score has also produced 
Compu-Sport college team ratings 
which have appeared along with the 
ap and upi ratings in many papers. 
They have also promoted some sports 
oriented computer contests in the 
L.A. area. 

Simulation of the football game is 
also being done by Woroner Produc¬ 
tions—the people who put together 
the simulated Muhammad Ali-Rocky 
Marciano fight. They are employing 
the services of Henry Meyer and 
sps, Inc. of Miami (a division of 
United Data Centers). They intend 
to come up with the alltime great 
college football team by simulating 
games as a playoff series. Films of the 
old teams have been studied to gain 
tendencies of the past teams. Pro¬ 
gramming is in simscript and it runs 
on a cdc 3600 with 64K, using all of 
core. (The application of Parkinson's 
Law to computer programs never 
fails). The program has 148 different 
tables which contain the various team 
statistics. Admittedly, they have had 
a few problems such as taking into 
account such differences as single and 
double platoons and the weights of 
the lines (they were much smaller 
back in the early days). The future 
status of the series is in doubt, since 
the project is curtailed at present 
(money problems presumably). 

Before leaving the area of football 
it would be a disservice not to men¬ 
tion the work of Bud Goode, a 
statistics expert associated with John 
Guedel-Art Linkletter Productions in 

Beverly Hills, California. He has 
compiled total game information 
from almost all the major college 
football games and all the pro games 
since 1965. He performs various 
statistical analyses of the data, such 
as factor analysis (to determine the 
relevant dimensions in a sport) and 
multiple regression analysis (to pre¬ 
dict the major criterion measures: 
percent won/lost, offense, and de¬ 
fense). Univac provides the computer 

Goode claims that his analysis has 
determined the relevant variables in 
most sports which account for almost 
100% of the "explanatory" variance. 
He does not claim to account for the 
"predictive" or "winning" variance, 
but still he claims to have 80% suc¬ 
cess in picking the college and pro 
games. (Las Vegas had better watch 
out!) Goode has broadened his statis¬ 
tical coverage from football to 
basketball (both college and pro), 
and the Indianapolis 500, pro base¬ 
ball, pga golf, soccer, and the Na¬ 
tional Hockey League. 


Track and field is one of the oldest 
sport categories in existence, with 
competitions dating back to the 
early Olympics in Athens (776 B.C.). 
Help from the computer had to wait 
a few years—until the mid to late 
1960s, when James B. Gardner and 
the author developed a system for 
performance measurement and run¬ 
ning training using a computer. 

Track application, unlike football, 
is not motivated by economics, since 
there is virtually no professional track 
in existence. Our motive in develop¬ 
ing a computer application in track 
and field was personal involvement 
and interest. What started as a casual 
interest in examining track statistics 
turned out to be almost a full time 
effort to systematize both perfor¬ 
mance measuring and training. 

Performance measuring involves 
assigning some abstract value to one's 
performance in track so that these 
performances may be compared from 
one event to another. The value 
typically assigned to the different 
marks is a numeric score called 
points: the better the performance, 
the more points are awarded. Almost 
everyone is familiar with the decath¬ 
lon in the Olympics and the fact that 

it is won by the athlete who accumu¬ 
lates the largest point total—the sum 
of the points awarded for each event. 

In 1967, James B. Gardner began 
examining the existing performance 
measuring systems (commonly called 
scoring tables). In a desire to develop 
a system that was more mathemati¬ 
cally consistent, he joined with the 
author to generate a consistent set of 
scoring tables for the running events 
in track. By the end of 1969 with 
three completely different rewrites of 
the computer program finished, we 
completed a scoring system that 
represents a substantial improvement 
over the other tables currently 

A technical article 3 which describes 
the system in detail shows that the 
points awarded for a given perfor¬ 
mance can be expressed by: 

P = A(T S /T p - B) 

where P is the point score for the 
performance time T p , A and B are 
constants and T s is the standard time 
for a particular event. The ratio 
T s /T p expresses the point score 
proportionality and establishes the 
actual point scale. The standard time 
is established from an analysis of 
performance for all the distances. 

The standard time in this system 
takes into account the delay due to 
reaction time of the starting signal, 
the delay due to the acceleration to 
running speed, and the delay to run¬ 
ning around the curves of a track. 

With this model, a computer 
program was written, first in fortran 
and later in pl/i. The computer runs 
were made on Stanford's 360/67. (An 
interesting question often asked is, 
"How does Jim Ryun's world mile 
record (3:51.1) compare with his 
world record for the 1500 meters 
(3:33.1)?" In our scoring system, 
these performances differ by only one 

An extension to the scoring tables 
described above is the generation of 
pacing tables, which are referenced 
for training. Much general publicity 
has been made concerning the bene¬ 
fits of jogging, but little has been 
done to quantitize the amount of 

3 Gardner, James B. and J. Gerry Purdy, “Computer 
Generated Track Scoring Tables,” Medicine and 
Science in Sports , Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 152-161, Fall, 

training one does in relation to level 
of ability. The competitive athlete 
constantly hears about the types of 
workouts that the world record 
holders are doing, but has no guide¬ 
lines to tell him how he should do 
those types of workouts for his level 
of ability. And how about the high 
school track coach who has 75 boys 
out for track? How can he give each 
one the workout that is just the right 
amount for his capability? 

Questions of this sort are easily 
answered with the pacing tables. 

First, one establishes level of ability 
relative to all the other people from 
the scoring tables. Then, one simply 
refers to the pacing table assigned 
for that point level. 

The pacing tables are derived from 
the scoring table in a straightforward 
manner. Given one level of ability, 
say the 500-point level, the pacing 
table times are computed by taking 
percentages (dividing by the fraction) 
of the times for the distances. One 
can easily obtain the times for the 
various distances that should be run 
for the given percentage speeds. The 
number of repetitions and the 
amount of suggested rest are also 
listed. Since the athlete is running 
less than 100% speed, in his training 
sessions he is expected to be able to 
repeat the run more than one time. 

There is one pacing table for every 
20 points in the scoring table. This 
gives recommended training schedules 
for levels of ability ranging from an 
8:43 miler to a 3:30 miler (better 
than the current world record). Given 
the proper point level, each runner or 
jogger can easily determine the 
appropriate level of training which is 
correct for him. 

The recently published book, 
Computerized Running Training Pro¬ 
grams , contains both the scoring 
and pacing tables along with an 
explanatory text. (The author is 
currently working on his PhD thesis 
which involves extensions to these 
concepts.) Scoring tables for the 
hurdles and field events will be de¬ 
veloped with the hope that the 
complete tables will become the 
international standard, replacing the 
current systems, which are not as 
mathematically consistent. Work is 
also under way to determine the true 
relationship between the number of 
repetitions performed and the 

amount of rest taken, so that if one 
performs more (or less) repetitions or 
more (or less) rest, the resulting 
effect can be predicted. 


The game of baseball can be simu¬ 
lated just like any other two-team 
sport: the statistics of frequencies of 
occurrence are compiled, and random 
variables are chosen to pick game 
actions from the statistical distribu¬ 
tions. This is exactly what was done 
by an outfit called Computer Re¬ 
search in Sports of Princeton, New 
Jersey. Through Dick Auerbach of 
nbc Sports, they arranged to have an 
all-time World Series, resulting in the 
simulated best team of the century. 
Two brothers, Eldon and Harlon 
Mills, chose eight teams to play in 
the computer World Series: 

1927 New York Yankees 
1929 Philadelphia Athletics 
1942 St. Louis Cardinals 
1951 New York Giants 
1955 Brooklyn Dodgers 
1961 New York Yankees 
1963 Los Angeles Dodgers 
1969 New York Mets 

On seven Saturday mornings 
preceding the nbc Game of the 
Week during 1970, results of one of 
the games were read by Curt Gowdy. 
The finals were held on September 
19, 1970 with the 1927 New York 
Yankees going against the 1961 New 
York Yankees. The winner of the 
game was the 1927 New York 
Yankees. Of course, the simulation 
does not mean that the 1927 Yan¬ 
kees are always the best team: it 
would have been interesting to see 
how consistent the results would have 
beep running multiple simulations 
with each team having to win the 
best four out of seven. 

The Mills brothers have written a 
book 4 concerning computer analysis 
of baseball statistics. They develop 
a statistic called the Player Win 
Average which they contend is the 
best available measure of the player's 
ability to help the team win. The 
computer program written by Com¬ 
puter Research in Sports was in 
fortran and was run on a local 

4 Mills, Eldon and Harlon Mills, Player Win 
Averages , A. S. Barnes and Co., 1970. 

There have probably been more 
statistics accumulated for baseball 
than any other professional sport. 

You name the category and there is a 
mountain of statistics about it. 

The ultimate in statistical report¬ 
ing of player data has come about for 
the Atlanta Braves. Lee Walburn 
and Bob Hope of the Braves engaged 
the services of Honeywell in Atlanta 
to develop a real-time, on-line base¬ 
ball statistical information system. 

The program was written in fortran 
IV for the Honeywell 1648 time¬ 
sharing computer with a core of 68K 
words. Developed by two Honeywell 
personnel, Gary Williams and Susan 
Gerald, the program is described by 
Ms Gerald: 

"Information is input to the 
machine as events occur during the 
game; game situations have been 
coded for ease of input—BB signify¬ 
ing base on balls, IB a single, etc.— 
and files are instantly updated 
according to player number. At any 
point in the game the operator may 
interrupt the data input to request 
short statistical print-outs that can 
include an up-to-the-minute line-up 
stat sheet or an up-to-date sheet on 
any player, any combination of 
players, or the entire team. In addi¬ 
tion, the system maintains and will 
print upon request files of special 
situations for pitchers and selected 
batters. Also, the system includes a 
short routine that will respond to any 
question in a conversational mode. 

"The use of this system has al¬ 
ready pointed out several interesting 
facts about individual players as 
well as the team as a whole. For 
example, through comparison of the 
statistics concerning Braves batting 
against left-handed pitchers versus 
batting against right-handed pitchers, 
we found that our Latin American 
players as a rule hit better against 
the right-handed pitchers/' 

Atlanta feels that the system is 
both efficient and useful, and Honey¬ 
well plans to market it to other 
teams in pro baseball. 

The 1970 All-Star game was com¬ 
posed of players selected by computer 
processing of punch card ballots by 
Marden Kane, Inc. Fans filled out 
the cards, which were tabulated. The 
National and American Leagues are 
also looking into the possibilities 
of nrenarinfr their schedules each vear 

by computer, since there is so much 
trouble with rescheduling due to 

The Houston Astros employ a 
computer to analyze the scouting 
information on prospective players. 
The reports are keypunched and 
processed by their 360 system. (The 
program was written by a programmer 
in their accounting department!) 

Computerized scoreboards are 
being developed to present statistics 
and other information to the fans 
attending the sports. The Conrac 
Corporation (hardware) and Informa¬ 
tion Concepts,Mnc. (software) built 
the scoreboard in the Oakland Coli¬ 
seum. There are 23,214 individual 
light bulbs in the board and it takes 
1,000,000 watts to operate it for one 
game. The board is 24 ft. high and 
126 ft. long (over 3,000 sq. ft.). An 
ibm 1130 actually generates the dis¬ 
play information sequences, which 
can be preprogrammed to show 
lettering and/or animations. The 
computer also has been programmed 
to keep track of statistics so that for 
example, it can display how many 
balls and strikes have been thrown by 
each pitcher at any time during the 


A very interesting application of 
computers to sports has been in the 
area of auto racing. The recently 
built Ontario Motor Speedway con¬ 
tacted the Conrac Corp. (hardware) 

and Information Concepts, Inc. (soft¬ 
ware) to construct a display board 
(similar to the Oakland Athletics') 
and a real-time measuring system for 
the track, to the tune of $3.6 million. 
Antennas are placed in the roadbed 
of the track, and transmitters—each 
operating at different frequencies—are 
attached to each car. Every time the 
car passes over the antenna, the 
signal causes an interrupt in the ibm 
1130 computer, which stores the 
clock time (good to 1/1000 of a 
second) and other information about 
the car. The system is designed to 
handle up to eight cars running 
abreast over the finish line at 200 
mph. The 1130 computes elapsed 
time, velocities, and places. The 
places are output on three pylons for 
spectator information. This much of 
the system was successfully used in 
the usac 500 race held in September 
1970. The second phase of the sys¬ 
tem, which includes the 246-ft. long 
display board, is now under develop¬ 
ment. Most of the programming was 
done in fortran, but some assembly 
language-routines were used for 
character generation on the pylons. 

How did the system work in the 
usac 500? According to Ray Smartis, 
vice-president and general manager of 
the track, "The system performed as 
designed, and the results were excel¬ 
lent. It is definitely the scoring 
system of the future."* 

^Sections on boxing, baseball, rowing, and other 
sports are in the original article. 

Computer Games 
People Play 


Computer games are opening new 
doors for equipment and software sales 
while painlessly teaching computer 
programming. During the next decade 
computer simulation and games will be¬ 
come a foundation for education and 
business management. 

Everyone plays games. Psychologists 
claim all human activity is a form 
of game playing. Sociologists say 
even business activity is game playing, 
more specifically, a highly stylized 
derivation of primitive hunter 

People tend to think in terms of 
games. Salesmen say, “Pm in the 
selling game/' The most popular 
form of recreation is sports, in 
particular, football. 

Mention computer games and you 
get a variation of reactions depending 
upon individual interest, business, 
or social requirements. To the mili¬ 
tary, computer games mean every¬ 
thing from war games to the deadly 
game of What If played by every 
nuclear power. The sociologist's com¬ 
puter games are a sophisticated 
method of studying the activities 
of man. 

Medical researchers use computer 
games to study everything from 
reaction time to the basic functions 
of the human brain. Computer games 
are as yet an almost untapped source 
of information and interaction for 
self-teaching which could expand 
human and computer intelligence. 

The computer game has already 
reached a level of sophistication that 
led to the formation of game net¬ 
works, international game societies, 
game publications, dozens of game 
books, and game companies. 

Thanks to a scattering of dedi¬ 
cated individuals in business, educa¬ 
tion and government, computer 
games are rapidly improving as a 
means of research through simulation 
and as a fascinating way to have fun. 
Many game experts claim games will 
do for computers what Henry Ford 
did for the automobile. At home, 
computer games await only the home 
terminal and the personal computer. 

Among international organizations, 
the Association for Computing 
Machinery (ACM) is perhaps best 
known for its annual computer chess 
tournament which pits program 
against program and computer against 

Are computers good chess players? 
'Try playing one," suggests Joseph 
Winograd, one of five Sperry-Univac 
programmers who developed 
CHAOS, a chess program played by a 
Univac 1108. "If you are just average 
at the same vou mav well lose." savs 

Winograd. "Computers today can 
play at the C or average player level. 
Our program has won more than half 
of its games against human players." 

Winograd claims computers may 
play at the expert level in 10 years. 
"This is possible," he asserts, "be¬ 
cause we still have lots of spare 
power and during the next decade we 
can expect machines to be more 

How does a computer play chess? 
Basically, the positions are assigned 
numerical values. The program in¬ 
structs the computer how to choose a 
single move, called a "half-move" 
or "ply" by evaluating goals and 
subgoals in a network of decision 
making. Most programs look about 
five half-moves ahead, examining only 
a few best alternatives and their 
consequences in depth, by applying 
selective chess principles. This may 
typically involve some 5,000 alterna¬ 
tives out of 30 million possibilities. 

"Computers can be polite adver¬ 
saries, even suggesting possible moves 
to an opponent if this is requested," 
says Winograd. "But they act with 
devastating swiftness if a piece is left 
unguarded and they show a relentless 
will to win." 

Univac's CHAOS hasn't been too 
successful in the great battle of com¬ 
puter chess, however. Last August at 
the annual conference of the ACM, 
CHAOS lost in the fourth and 
final round to a Control Data 6400 
and a program called CHESS written 
by a team from Northwestern 

Many game experts claim games 
will do for computers what Henry 
Ford did for the automobile. 

It was the fourth consecutive 
chess tournament win for the North¬ 
western team of Larry Atkins, Keith 
Gorlen, and David Slate. Other 
runners-up with Univac's CHAOS 
were OSTRICH, a Data General 
Supernova program from Columbia 
University, and TECH II, a PDP-10 
program from Massachusetts Institute 
of Technology. 

The chess tournaments among 
computers aren't actually all that 
involved in teaching humans. "They 
may teach a little programming," says 
an ACM officer, "but the computer 
chess same against another comnuter 

is little more than a challenge of 
computer power against programming 


More direct games of man against 
computer, or man against man via 
the computer, represent the new 
direction of computer simulation 

In his book, Game Playing with 
Computers , Donald G. Spencer says, 
"Game programs provide excellent 
situations for learning computer 
programming. The beginning pro¬ 
grammer can understand the problem 
to be programmed in a minimum of 
time; therefore, he can devote more 
time to learning the computer, the 
programming language and the tech¬ 
niques of problem solving with a 

Spencer asks, "Why are computers 
used to play games?" His own 
answer, "Well, games are fun to play 
and are often good analogies to 
actual situations involving human 
beings and their environment." 

Games are being applied to business 
management and strategy. Business 
executives are playing games with 
computers that simulate the opera¬ 
tions of their business. Researchers 
are using computers to conduct 
studies into the strategies of gambling 
and betting systems. 

Since the introduction of com¬ 
puters to gambling statistics and 
logic, the rules have changed at 
some Las Vegas games to stop the 
winner with connections ... to a 
computer terminal. This came after 
several gambling houses lost a tre¬ 
mendous amount of money to a few 
sharp mathematicians. 

According to most computer game 
program writers and game creators, 
the most popular form of play for 
the computer is for it to participate 
in the game as an actual player. In 
this type of game the human player 
indicates each of his moves to the 
computer on an input device—usually 
a teleprinter. The computer then 
computes its move and reports that 
move to its human competitor. The 
computer always keeps score by 
recording both the computer's and 
human's move. 

To be sure, this activity somewhat 
simulates the action of a human 
player. However, there are many 

different possible moves in a game. 

In fact, there are millions of possible 
solutions resulting from just a few 
moves in a game such as chess. Even 
one move in chess can result in 
10 to the 40th power in possible 
moves. The computer cannot analyze 
all possible sequences of moves in the 
known solution games, especially 
where there is a time limit between 


Computers are also playing simula¬ 
tion games to help people learn how 
to run their businesses, the U.S. 
economy, and the world in terms of 
international trade and its effects on 
corporate income. 

One of the best examples of com¬ 
puter games that play economic 
simulation games is at the Stanford 
University Graduate School of 
Business. Under the direction of Dr. 
William F. Sharpe, graduate students 
in a macroeconomics course are 
simulating the management of an 
entire national economy under vary¬ 
ing conditions of money supply, tax 
rates and government expenditures. 

In addition to its economics 
course, the Stanford business school's 
computer system is serving the stu¬ 
dents as an on-line information 
system, assisting in the solution of 
typical business management 

The system consists of a Hewlett- 
Packard 2000-C timeshare computer 
with 25 terminals. Each terminal is 
available to students on a first-come, 

first-served basis, allowing each stu¬ 
dent to communicate with the com¬ 
puter as a personal computer. 

Program storage within the system 
is sufficient to allow each student 
user to have his own assigned space 
within the computer's memory. 
Students can develop programs and 
save them for later use. The students' 
programs are keyed to their individual 
entry codes so only the individual 
student can execute, copy or list 

All the graduate school programs 
are in BASIC to allow simple line-by¬ 
line checking during entry and to 
eliminate the need for repeat cycles 
throughout the programs. 

According to Dr. Sharpe, the 
economics program as a model allows 
the students to operate a business in 
a living, changing economic situation 
and to test, evaluate and study a 
variety of business methods. 

Almost all large corporations are 
involved in some sort of market 
forecasting. Large multinational 
organizations often combine the world's 
recent economic history with weather 
data, agricultural forecasts, stock 
market trends and a dash of political 
"guesstimating" to obtain fairly accu¬ 
rate projections of marketing goals, 
raw material needs, income and 

Perhaps the most ambitious use of 
computers and computer games is in 
the rapidly developing area of com¬ 
puter games to stimulate children 
and teach them about computers and 
about their world via computers. 

At present the most ambitious of 

If the predictions of Albrecht and 
other innovative leaders in com¬ 
puter game development are ac¬ 
curate, computer skills will be as 
common as riding a bicycle. 

such projects is at the Lawrence Hall 
of Science (LHS) at the University of 
California in Berkeley. 

What started as a relatively small 
research project on the part of a few 
physics professors from Berkeley 
Campus has now mushroomed into a 
full computer education and service 
project—staffed largely by UC students 
and offering a variety of computer 
classes, public access to terminals, and 
a low-cost time sharing service for 
educational users. 

LHS is unique to the Bay Area, 
and perhaps to the world, as a place 
where a large number of people have 
first-hand exposure and hands-on 
access to computers at a very low 
cost. The main goal is a concept 
called computer literacy which 
involves educating children and 
adults about computers. 

The center has created a non¬ 
threatening, non-punative, intriguing 
learning environment where people 
are introduced to computers as 
simulators, gaming opponents, 
problem solving tools and artistic 
media rather than data banks, num¬ 
ber crunchers, data processors, or 
cybernetic electronic monsters. For 
most children, this approach seems 
only natural, but for most adults this 
is an eye-opening revelation. 

Just inside the entrance to the 
Lawrence Hall of Science is a collec¬ 
tion of four CRT terminals usually 
crowded with children and adults. 
The CRT terminals are connected to 
a Hewlett-Packard 2000B and 
Decision computer and operate some 
unusual programs. 

One terminal is dedicated to con¬ 
trolling an electronic tone box 
located above the terminal. Programs 
are available to permit the user to 
compose and play his own music. 

Two other terminals play games. 
Among the selection are such games 
as BAGELS, a number-logic game; 
HANG, the old game of hangman; 
LEM, a simulated lunar landing; and 
GUESS, a number guessing game. 

The fourth terminal in the public 
area contains a program called 

ELIZA in which the computer carries 
on a seemingly intelligent dialogue 
with the user. It is modeled after the 
original ELIZA program developed 
by Joseph Weisenbaum at MIT. It is 
a fast way for children and adults to 
learn that computers aren't intelli¬ 
gent. Despite the large number of 
children clustered around the ELIZA 
terminal whenever the hall is open, 
even the beginning readers can guess 
it is responding to code words after 
operating the terminal a few minutes. 

The Lawrence Hall of Science 
makes the terminals available free to 
anyone visiting the hall. For a large 
number of visitors, these are the 
only interactive computer terminals 
they have ever used. 

In addition to the pre-programmed 
displays in the public area, LHS is in 
its second year of supplying computer 
time to the general public for 75 
cents an hour on a first-come, first- 
served basis. Twenty teletype ter¬ 
minals in two computer classrooms 
are offered, ten units on weekday 
afternoons and all twenty on week¬ 
ends. The terminals are connected to 
a Decision computer and have full 
access to the LHS program library. 

An LHS staff member is always on 
duty to answer questions and help 
the users learn. People using these 
terminals do everything from playing 
games and drawing pictures to writ¬ 
ing programs for their own research 
or entertainment. 

LHS officials say during the school 
year they log an average of 150 ter¬ 
minal hours per week and more than 
200 terminal hours per week during 

Even if you’re not quite five you can have fun 
with computers. 

the summer. Another LHS project, a 
school visitation program, introduces 
Bay Area students in grades four 
through eight to computers. During 
the school year about 200 children 
per week participate in discovery 
workshops on computers. 

LHS also has over 30 educational 
users using the Decision and HP 
2000B computers. Many of the users 
are on the Berkeley Campus. Others 
are located at area colleges, high 
schools and junior high schools in 
northern California. The program has 
been so successful that a Montessori 
school in San Francisco is using the 
computer terminal as an integral 
teaching aid for students as young as 
four years old. 

Honeywell has also recently 
jumped into the computer informa¬ 
tion game with an extensive display 
of public operated terminals at the 
Boston Museum of Science. 

The focal point is a Honeywell 
minicomputer connected to seven 
CRT terminals. The compact 2000 
sq. ft. display area also contains a 
number of graphic panels explaining 
computers and their history. 

C. W. Spangle, Honeywell execu¬ 
tive vice president, says the purpose 
of the exhibit is to allow visitors "to 
get acquainted with one of the most 
widely used—and yet the least under¬ 
stood—of today's technological 

Museum visitors can operate the 
terminals to play games, make math 
calculations and retrieve information 
about the museum, thus allowing 
visitors to learn the machine's capa¬ 
bilities and how it works. 

Though not devoted strictly to 
computer games, Clark C. Abt's 
book, Serious Games , covers every¬ 
thing from improving education with 
games and how to think with games 
by designing them, to games for 
planning and problem solving in 
government and industry. 

With frightening clarity, Abt says 
the adult activity most clearly analo¬ 
gous to games is warfare. "Wars are 
obviously very costly and not prac¬ 
tically subject to experimentation," 
says Abt. "But, they are competitive 
activities on the largest scale, in 
which adversary decision makers con¬ 
test objectives within the limits of 
their will and resources." 

According to Abt, there is no 

Classes in “creative play with the computer” introduce children to a fascinating technology 

reason why the learning, analysis and 
planning of elaborate and detailed 
processes in the form of games should 
be limited to military problems. He 
says political and social situations 
can often be thought of as games. 


The federal government, and in par¬ 
ticular the National Science Founda¬ 
tion, has contributed to computer 
game teaching methods with the 
funding of the Huntington Project 
which has developed and distributed 
the most comprehensive set of com¬ 
puter simulation programs written in 

The single most important feature 
of the programs is that they use a 
rather standard simple BASIC pro¬ 
gramming form without string vari¬ 
ables or files. This means most 
minicomputer systems can run them 
provided they have memory space. 

Most of the Huntington Project 
programs take about 1500 to 2000 
words. Each program includes a small 
amount of documentation outlining 
possible objectives, preliminary prepa¬ 
ration, discussion topics and follow-up 
suggestions. A run of each program is 
also included so teachers can see 
what the program does. 

Huntington II is the second 
National Science Foundation funded 
package of BASIC programs for 
school use. More than 200 schools 
around the country have tested the 
programs. Many instructors and com¬ 
puter simulation-games experts claim 
they are among the best available 
programs for introducing the com¬ 
puter to the classroom. 

Each of the Huntington II pro¬ 
grams is available with a resource 
handbook, which is a minicomputer 
textbook that tells the student all 
about the subject of simulation and 
how it relates to the individual 
teaching program. Also included are 
computer laboratory guides which 
provide the student with a series of 
recommended learning activities to 
try on the computer. 

Though the Huntington programs 
make use of games for teaching and 
are among the best of the readily 
available teaching games, there is a 
startling, relatively new movement 
which may revolutionize man's 
concept of the computer. 


Corporate drop-outs, free-lance pro¬ 
grammers, even school children are 
organizing computer games informa¬ 
tion exchanges, publications and 
centers where people can play with 

Hundreds of school children, col¬ 
lege students, even some teachers 
first learned about computer games 
and playing with computers for fun 
from a most unusual bi-monthly 
newspaper called Peoples Computer 

What this non-profit, free-form 
newspaper lacks in literary style and 
composition, it makes up in crea¬ 
tivity, imagination in teaching BASIC 
program and a wealth of information 
about teaching programs, new com¬ 
puter games, articles about games 
around the world, and in general, 
what's happening in the computer 

Bob Albrecht, PCC's founder 
and publisher, can be described in 
many ways. Corporate drop-out, com¬ 
puter game drop-in, teacher and 
innovater, Albrecht has advanced 
degrees in applied math and an 
extensive background as a systems 
analyst with big name computer 
companies. He is the author of 
several articles and books on com¬ 
puter assisted teaching and computer 
games. His most noteworthy publish¬ 
ing venture to date, other than PCC, 
is a small illustrated book called, 

My Computer Likes Me. In no- 
nonsense straightforward language 

and profuse illustrations, the book 
teaches basic BASIC to almost 
anyone who can read. 

Along with the newspaper Peoples 
Computer Company , there is a 
Peoples Computer Center located in 
a former hardware store on a quiet 
back street in Menlo Park, CA. The 
center contains on-line terminals 
for game playing and for inexpensive 
by-the-hour programming by students 
from local schools and members of 
PCC informal computer classes. 

The games, played via teletype 
terminal, include math games, space 
war games, ("Kill the invaders and 
get rid of your hostilities," says 
Albrecht), space exploration and 
economic games. (Star-Trader is a 
game of intergalactic commerce 
designed to teach economics and 
the fundamentals of terminal 

When asked to describe PCC's 
basic goals as a newspaper and com¬ 
puter-game-playing-teaching center, 
Albrecht answered, "Have fun. Most 
people think of computers as some 
awe inspiring mechanical brain that 
requires a genius to operate. By teach¬ 
ing kids to play games we get them 
involved in something they under¬ 
stand (playing a game and knowing 
the rules) and operating a terminal 
becomes second nature. We strive 
for a very informal sort of teaching 
arrangement. I don't think the com¬ 
puter will ever amount to much as 
an autocratic electronic instructor 
that plays guess the right answer 



Serious games 
Clark C. Abt 
The Viking Press 
New York, 1970 

Game Playing With Computers 
Donald D. Spencer 
Spartan Books 
New York, 1968 

My Computer Likes Me 


Menlo Park, CA 1972 


Peoples Computer Company 
(the newspaper) 
and Peoples Computer Center 
Box 310 

Menlo Park, CA 94025 
Computer Chess 

Association for Computing Machinery 
Box 4566 
Atlanta, GA 30302 

Lawrence Hall of Science 
University of California 
Berkeley, CA 94720 

and rewards the student with a 
flashing display of 'Right, Billy!' 
when a kid's pushed the right but¬ 
ton," explains Albrecht. 

"Our concept of computer games 
allows the student, adult or child, to 
have fun. They can write their own 
programs if they want to. Usually 
after they play a game for awhile 

they begin to understand how the 
computer functions. Pretty soon they 
are into writing their own programs. 
We have kids in the fourth grade 
writing programs. In fact, one of our 
simpler program writing games, 
INCHWORM, doesn't require a 
computer or terminal," says Albrecht. 

INCHWORM, Albrecht's brain¬ 
child, is played with a simple drawing 
of a large square divided into several 
smaller squares similar to a chessboard. 
The inchworm, a mythical bug, is 
programmed to move from one 
square to another with simple instruc¬ 
tions. Moves are either north, south, 
east or west. A move from the top 
left of the square to the center of a 
box with 25 squares would be indi¬ 
cated by a program of east, east, 
south, south. To make the game 
more complex, the box is blocked off 
into a maze and students are asked 
to program a route through the maze 
from one point to another. 

"We run learning games, like 
INCHWORM, in the newspaper and 
we're developing an INCHWORM 
workbook," says Albrecht. "It doesn't 
take long to teach simplified BASIC 
this way. Then we can help students 
learn more advanced programming 
and get them to be conversant with 
the computer with as much ease as 
they would learn to play baseball or 
use a typewriter." 

There is another monthly tabloid 
publication for computer game pro¬ 
grammers, players and those inter¬ 
ested in games for teaching purposes, 
called Simulation/Gaming/News. It's 
published in Moscow, Idaho, by Don 
H. Coombs and about 19 other con¬ 

tributing editors throughout the 
country. The newspaper contains 
information about computer game 
books, symposiums, new simulation 
programs and teaching games. It also 
acts as an information sounding 
board for those interested in simula¬ 
tion games. 

Bob Albrecht, also a contributing 
editor to Simulation /Gaming/News, 
says SGN covers everything from the 
development of the U.S. Army simu¬ 
lation game programs to the very 
simple basic games for children. 
"Anyone interested in computer 
games or simulation games should 
read SGN," says Albrecht. 

Almost everyone involved in com¬ 
puter games agrees that growing 
consumer interest in computer games 
for entertainment will lead to vast 
technological leaps in the develop¬ 
ment of home computer terminals 
and television connected computer 
games. "The computer terminal is 
just beginning to move into the class¬ 
room as a generally available tool," 
says Albrecht. "Since kids have no 
hang-ups about the awesomeness of 
the computer, they tend to learn 
more quickly." 

Computer simulation to create real 
life economic, social, political or 
military situations are an accurate, 
timely, relatively inexpensive and safe 
method of forecasting statistical 

If the predictions of Albrecht and 
other innovative leaders in computer 
game development are accurate, com¬ 
puter skills will be as common as 
riding a bicycle. 

Classes in “creative play with the computer” introduce children to a fascinating technology. 

reason why the learning, analysis and 
planning of elaborate and detailed 
processes in the form of games should 
be limited to military problems. He 
says political and social situations 
can often be thought of as games. 


The federal government, and in par¬ 
ticular the National Science Founda¬ 
tion, has contributed to computer 
game teaching methods with the 
funding of the Huntington Project 
which has developed and distributed 
the most comprehensive set of com¬ 
puter simulation programs written in 

The single most important feature 
of the programs is that they use a 
rather standard simple BASIC pro¬ 
gramming form without string vari¬ 
ables or files. This means most 
minicomputer systems can run them 
provided they have memory space. 

Most of the Huntington Project 
programs take about 1500 to 2000 
words. Each program includes a small 
amount of documentation outlining 
possible objectives, preliminary prepa¬ 
ration, discussion topics and follow-up 
suggestions. A run of each program is 
also included so teachers can see 
what the program does. 

Huntington II is the second 
National Science Foundation funded 
package of BASIC programs for 
school use. More than 200 schools 
around the country have tested the 
programs. Many instructors and com¬ 
puter simulation-games experts claim 
they are among the best available 
programs for introducing the com¬ 
puter to the classroom. 

Each of the Huntington II pro¬ 
grams is available with a resource 
handbook, which is a minicomputer 
textbook that tells the student all 
about the subject of simulation and 
how it relates to the individual 
teaching program. Also included are 
computer laboratory guides which 
provide the student with a series of 
recommended learning activities to 
try on the computer. 

Though the Huntington programs 
make use of games for teaching and 
are among the best of the readily 
available teaching games, there is a 
startling, relatively new movement 
which may revolutionize man's 
concept of the computer. 


Corporate drop-outs, free-lance pro¬ 
grammers, even school children are 
organizing computer games informa¬ 
tion exchanges, publications and 
centers where people can play with 

Hundreds of school children, coF 
lege students, even some teachers 
first learned about computer games 
and playing with computers for fun 
from a most unusual bi-monthly 
newspaper called Peoples Computer 

What this non-profit, free-form 
newspaper lacks in literary style and 
composition, it makes up in crea¬ 
tivity, imagination in teaching BASIC 
program and a wealth of information 
about teaching programs, new com¬ 
puter games, articles about games 
around the world, and in general, 
what's happening in the computer 

Bob Albrecht, PCC's founder 
and publisher, can be described in 
many ways. Corporate drop-out, com¬ 
puter game drop-in, teacher and 
innovater, Albrecht has advanced 
degrees in applied math and an 
extensive background as a systems 
analyst with big name computer 
companies. He is the author of 
several articles and books on com¬ 
puter assisted teaching and computer 
games. His most noteworthy publish¬ 
ing venture to date, other than PCC, 
is a small illustrated book called, 

My Computer Likes Me. In no- 
nonsense straightforward language 

and profuse illustrations, the book 
teaches basic BASIC to almost 
anyone who can read. 

Along with the newspaper Peoples 
Computer Company , there is a 
Peoples Computer Center located in 
a former hardware store on a quiet 
back street in Menlo Park, CA. The 
center contains on-line terminals 
for game playing and for inexpensive 
by-the-hour programming by students 
from local schools and members of 
PCC informal computer classes. 

The games, played via teletype 
terminal, include math games, space 
war games, (“Kill the invaders and 
get rid of your hostilities," says 
Albrecht), space exploration and 
economic games. (Star-Trader is a 
game of intergalactic commerce 
designed to teach economics and 
the fundamentals of terminal 

When asked to describe PCC's 
basic goals as a newspaper and com¬ 
puter-game-playing-teaching center, 
Albrecht answered, “Have fun. Most 
people think of computers as some 
awe inspiring mechanical brain that 
requires a genius to operate. By teach¬ 
ing kids to play games we get them 
involved in something they under¬ 
stand (playing a game and knowing 
the rules) and operating a terminal 
becomes second nature. We strive 
for a very informal sort of teaching 
arrangement. I don't think the com¬ 
puter will ever amount to much as 
an autocratic electronic instructor 
that plays guess the right answer 



Serious games 
Clark C. Abt 
The Viking Press 
New York, 1970 

Game Playing With Computers 
Donald D. Spencer 
Spartan Books 
New York, 1968 

My Computer Likes Me 


Menlo Park, CA 1972 


Peoples Computer Company 
(the newspaper) 
and Peoples Computer Center 
Box 310 

Menlo Park, CA 94025 
Computer Chess 

Association for Computing Machinery 
Box 4566 
Atlanta, GA 30302 

Lawrence Hall of Science 
University of California 
Berkeley, CA 94720 

and rewards the student with a 
flashing display of 'Right, Billy!' 
when a kid's pushed the right but¬ 
ton," explains Albrecht. 

"Our concept of computer games 
allows the student, adult or child, to 
have fun. They can write their own 
programs if they want to. Usually 
after they play a game for awhile 

they begin to understand how the 
computer functions. Pretty soon they 
are into writing their own programs. 
We have kids in the fourth grade 
writing programs. In fact, one of our 
simpler program writing games, 
INCHWORM, doesn't require a 
computer or terminal," says Albrecht. 

INCHWORM, Albrecht's brain¬ 
child, is played with a simple drawing 
of a large square divided into several 
smaller squares similar to a chessboard. 
The inchworm, a mythical bug, is 
programmed to move from one 
square to another with simple instruc¬ 
tions. Moves are either north, south, 
east or west. A move from the top 
left of the square to the center of a 
box with 25 squares would be indi¬ 
cated by a program of east, east, 
south, south. To make the game 
more complex, the box is blocked off 
into a maze and students are asked 
to program a route through the maze 
from one point to another. 

"We run learning games, like 
INCHWORM, in the newspaper and 
we're developing an INCHWORM 
workbook," says Albrecht. "It doesn't 
take long to teach simplified BASIC 
this way. Then we can help students 
learn more advanced programming 
and get them to be conversant with 
the computer with as much ease as 
they would learn to play baseball or 
use a typewriter." 

There is another monthly tabloid 
publication for computer game pro¬ 
grammers, players and those inter¬ 
ested in games for teaching purposes, 
called Simulation/Gaming/News. It's 
published in Moscow, Idaho, by Don 
H. Coombs and about 19 other con¬ 

tributing editors throughout the 
country. The newspaper contains 
information about computer game 
books, symposiums, new simulation 
programs and teaching games. It also 
acts as an information sounding 
board for those interested in simula¬ 
tion games. 

Bob Albrecht, also a contributing 
editor to Simulation/Gaming/News, 
says SGN covers everything from the 
development of the U.S. Army simu¬ 
lation game programs to the very 
simple basic games for children. 
"Anyone interested in computer 
games or simulation games should 
read SGN," says Albrecht. 

Almost everyone involved in com¬ 
puter games agrees that growing 
consumer interest in computer games 
for entertainment will lead to vast 
technological leaps in the develop¬ 
ment of home computer terminals 
and television connected computer 
games. "The computer terminal is 
just beginning to move into the class¬ 
room as a generally available tool," 
says Albrecht. "Since kids have no 
hang-ups about the awesomeness of 
the computer, they tend to learn 
more quickly." 

Computer simulation to create real 
life economic, social, political or 
military situations are an accurate, 
timely, relatively inexpensive and safe 
method of forecasting statistical 

If the predictions of Albrecht and 
other innovative leaders in computer 
game development are accurate, com¬ 
puter skills will be as common as 
riding a bicycle. 

The Nine Billion Names of God 


"This is a slightly unusual request/' said Dr. Wagner, with 
what he hoped was commendable restraint. "As far as I know, 
it's the first time anyone's been asked to supply a Tibetan 
monastery with an automatic sequence computer. I don't 
wish to be inquisitive, but I should hardly have thought that 
your—ah—establishment had much use for such a machine. 
Could you explain just what you intend to do with it?" 

"Gladly," replied the lama, readjusting his silk robe and 
carefully putting away the slide rule he had been using for 
currency conversions. "Your Mark V computer can carry out 
any routine mathematical operation involving up to ten 
digits. However, for our work we are interested in letters , not 
numbers. As we wish you to modify the output circuits, the 
machine will be printing words, not columns of figures." 

"I don't quite understand . . 

"This is a project on which we have been working for the 
last three centuries—since the lamasery was founded, in fact. 
It is somewhat alien to your way of thought, so I hope you 
will listen with an open mind while I explain it." 


"It is really quite simple. We have been compiling a list 
which shall contain all the possible names of God." 

"I beg your pardon?" 

"We have reason to believe," continued the lama imper¬ 
turbably, "that all such names can be written with not more 
than nine letters in an alphabet we have devised." 

"And you have been doing this for three centuries?" 

"Yes. We expected it would take us about fifteen thou¬ 
sand years to complete the task." 

"Oh." Dr. Wagner looked a little dazed. "Now I see why 
you wanted to hire one of our machines. But exactly what is 
the purpose of this project?" 

The lama hesitated for a fraction of a second, and Wagner 
wondered if he had offended him. If so, there was no trace of 
annoyance in the reply. 

"Call it ritual, if you like, but it's a fundamental part of 
our belief. All the many names of the Supreme Being—God, 
Jehovah, Allah, and so on—they are only man-made labels. 
There is a philosophical problem of some difficulty here, 
which I do not propose to discuss, but somewhere among all 
the possible combinations of letters which can occur are what 
one may call the real names of God. By systematic permuta¬ 
tion of letters, we have been trying to list them all." 

"I see. You've been starting at AAAAAAAAA . . . and 
working up to ZZZZZZZZZ . . ." 

"Exactly—though we use a special alphabet of our own. 
Modifying the electromatic typewriters to deal with this is, 
of course, trivial. A rather more interesting problem is that of 
devising suitable circuits to eliminate ridiculous combina¬ 
tions. For example, no letter must occur more than three 
times in succession." 

"Three? Surely you mean two." 

"Three is correct. I am afraid it would take too long to 
explain why, even if you understood our language." 

"I'm sure it would," said Wagner hastily. "Go on." 

"Luckily it will be a simple matter to adapt your auto¬ 
matic sequence computer for this work, since once it has 
been programed properly it will permute each letter in turn 
and print the result. What would have taken us fifteen 
thousand years it will be able to do in a hundred days." 

Dr. Wagner was scarcely conscious of the faint sounds 
from the Manhattan streets far below. He was in a different 
world, a world of natural, not man-made, mountains. High 
up in their remote aeries these monks had been patiently at 
work, generation after generation, compiling their lists of 
meaningless words. Was there any limit to the follies of 
mankind? Still, he must give no hint of his inner thoughts. 
The customer was always right . . . 

"There's no doubt," replied the doctor, "that we can 
modify the Mark V to print lists of this nature. I'm much 
more worried about the problem of installation and mainte¬ 
nance. Getting out to Tibet, in these days, is not going to be 

"We can arrange that. The components are small enough 
to travel by air—that is one reason why we chose your ma¬ 
chine. If you can get them to India, we will provide transport 
from there." 

"And you want to hire two of our engineers?" 

"Yes, for the three months which the project should 

"I've no doubt that Personnel can manage that." Dr. 
Wagner scribbled a note on his desk pad. "There are just 
two other points—" 

Before he could finish the sentence the lama had pro¬ 
duced a small slip of paper. 

"This is my certified credit balance at the Asiatic Bank." 

"Thank you. It appears to be—ah—adequate. The second 
matter is so trivial that I hesitate to mention it—but it's 
surprising how often the obvious gets overlooked. What 
source of electrical energy have you?" 

"A diesel generator providing 50 kilowatts at 110 volts. It 
was installed about five years ago and is quite reliable. It's 
made life at the lamasery much more comfortable, but of 
course it was really installed to provide power for the motors 
driving the prayer wheels." 

"Of course," echoed Dr. Wagner. "I should have thought 
of that." 

The view from the parapet was vertiginous, but in time 
one gets used to anything. After three months George Hanley 
was not impressed by the two-thousand-foot swoop into the 
abyss or the remote checkerboard of fields in the valley 
below. He was leaning against the wind-smoothed stones and 

staring morosely at the distant mountains whose names he 
had never bothered to discover. 

This, thought George, was the craziest thing that had 
ever happened to him. "Project Shangri-La," some wit at the 
labs had christened it. For weeks now the Mark V had been 
churning out acres of sheets covered with gibberish. Patiently, 
inexorably, the computer had been rearranging letters in all 
their possible combinations, exhausting each class before 
going on to the next. As the sheets had emerged from the 
electromatic typewriters, the monks had carefully cut them 
up and pasted them into enormous books. In another week, 
heaven be praised, they would have finished. Just what ob¬ 
scure calculations had convinced the monks that they 
needn't bother to go on to words of ten, twenty, or a hundred 
letters, George didn't know. One of his recurring nightmares 
was that there would be some change of plan and that the 
High Lama (whom they'd naturally called Sam Jaffe, though 
he didn't look a bit like him) would suddenly announce that 
the project would be extended to approximately 2060 a.d. 
They were quite capable of it. 

George heard the heavy wooden door slam in the wind as 
Chuck came out onto the parapet beside him. As usual, 
Chuck was smoking one of the cigars that made him so 
popular with the monks—who, it seemed, were quite willing 
to embrace all the minor and most of the major pleasures 
of life. That was one thing in their favor: they might be 
crazy, but they weren't bluenoses. Those frequent trips they 
took down to the village, for instance . . . 

"Listen, George," said Chuck urgently. "I've learned 
something that means trouble." 

"What's wrong? Isn't the machine behaving?" That was 
the worst contingency George could imagine. It might delay 
his return, than which nothing could be more horrible. The 
way he felt now, even the sight of a TV commercial would 
seem like manna from heaven. At least it would be some 
link with home. 

"No—it's nothing like that." Chuck settled himself on the 
parapet, which was unusual, because normally he was scared 
of the drop. "I've just found what all this is about." 

"What d'ya mean—I thought we knew." 

"Sure—we know what the monks are trying to do. But we 
didn't know why. It's the craziest thing—" 

"Tell me something new," growled George. 

". . . but old Sam's just come clean with me. You know 
the way he drops in every afternoon to watch the sheets roll 
out. Well, this time he seemed rather excited, or at least as 
near as he'll ever get to it. When I told him that we were on 
the last cycle he asked me, in that cute English accent of his, 
if I'd ever wondered what they were trying to do. I said, 
'Sure'—and he told me." 

"Go on, I'll buy it." 

"Well, they believe that when they have listed all His 
names—and they reckon that there are about nine billion 
of them—God's purpose will be achieved. The human race 
will have finished what it was created to do, and there won't 
be any point in carrying on. Indeed, the very idea is some¬ 
thing like blasphemy." 

"Then what do they expect us to do? Commit suicide?" 

"There's no need for that. When the list's completed, 
God steps in and simply winds things up . . . bingo!" 

"Oh, I get it. When we finish our job, it will be the end of 
the world." 

Chuck gave a nervous little laugh. 

"That's just what I said to Sam. And do you know what 
happened? He looked at me in a very queer way, like I'd 
been stupid in class, and said, 'It's nothing as trivial as that .'" 

George thought this over for a moment. 

"That's what I call taking the Wide View," he said 
presently. "But what d'ya suppose we should do about it? I 
don't see that it makes the slightest difference to us. After all, 
we already knew that they were crazy." 

"Yes—but don't you see what may happen? When the 
list's complete and the Last Trump doesn't blow—or what¬ 
ever it is they expect—we may get the blame. It's our ma¬ 
chine they've been using. I don't like the situation one little 

"I see," said George slowly. "You've got a point there. 
But this sort of thing's happened before, you know. When I 
was a kid down in Louisiana we had a crackpot preacher who 
said the world was going to end next Sunday. Hundreds of 
people believed him—even sold their homes. Yet nothing 
happened; they didn't turn nasty as you'd expect. They just 
decided that he'd made a mistake in his calculations and 
went right on believing. I guess some of them still do." 

"Well, this isn't Louisiana, in case you hadn't noticed. 
There are just two of us and hundreds of these monks. I like 
them, and I'll be sorry for old Sam when his lifework back¬ 
fires on him. But all the same, I wish I was somewhere else," 

"I've been wishing that for weeks. But there's nothing 
we can do until the contract's finished and the transport 
arrives to fly us out." 

"Of course," said Chuck thoughtfully, "we could always 
try a bit of sabotage." 

"Like hell we could! That would make things worse." 

"Not the way I meant. Look at it like this. The machine 
will finish its run four days from now, on the present twenty- 
hours-a-day basis. The transport calls in a week. O.K., then all 
we need do is to find something that wants replacing during 
one of the overhaul periods—something that will hold up the 
works for a couple of days. We'll fix it, of course, but not too 
quickly. If we time matters properly, we can be down at the 
airfield when the last name pops out of the register. They 
won't be able to catch us then." 

"I don't like it," said George. "It will be the first time I 
ever walked out on a job. Besides, it would make them 
suspicious. No, I'll sit tight and take what comes." 

"I still don't like it," he said seven days later, as the tough 
little mountain ponies carried them down the winding road. 
"And don't you think I'm running away because I'm afraid. 
I'm just sorry for those poor old guys up there, and I don't 
want to be around when they find what suckers they've been. 
Wonder how Sam will take it?" 

"It's funny," replied Chuck, "but when I said goodbye I 
got the idea he knew we were walking out on him—and that 
he didn't care because he knew the machine was running 
smoothly and that the job would soon be finished. After 

that—well, of course, for him there just isn't any After 
That . . ." 

George turned in his saddle and stared back up the moun¬ 
tain road. This was the last place from which one could get a 
clear view of the lamasery. The squat, angular buildings were 
silhouetted against the afterglow of the sunset; here and 
there lights gleamed like portholes in the sides of an ocean 
liner. Electric lights, of course, sharing the same circuit as 
the Mark V. How much longer would they share it? won¬ 
dered George. Would the monks smash up the computer in 
their rage and disappointment? Or would they just sit down 
quietly and begin their calculations all over again? 

He knew exactly what was happening up on the mountain 
at this very moment. The High Lama and his assistants 
would be sitting in their silk robes, inspecting the sheets as 
the junior monks carried them away from the typewriters 
and pasted them into the great volumes. No one would be 
saying anything. The only sound would be the incessant 
patter, the never-ending rainstorm, of the keys hitting the 
paper, for the Mark V itself was utterly silent as it flashed 
through its thousands of calculations a second. Three months 
of this, thought George, was enough to start anyone climbing 
up the wall. 

"There she is!" called Chuck, pointing down into the 
valley. "Ain't she beautiful!" 

She certainly was, thought George. The battered old DC-3 
lay at the end of the runway like a tiny silver cross. In two 
hours she would be bearing them away to freedom and 
sanity. It was a thought worth savoring like a fine liqueur. 
George let it roll around his mind as the pony trudged pa¬ 
tiently down the slope. 

The swift night of the high Himalayas was now almost 
upon them. Fortunately the road was very good, as roads 
went in this region, and they were both carrying torches. 
There was not the slightest danger, only a certain discomfort 
from the bitter cold. The sky overhead was perfectly clear 
and ablaze with the familiar, friendly stars. At least there 
would be no risk, thought George, of the pilot being unable 
to take off because of weather conditions. That had been his 
only remaining worry. 

He began to sing but gave it up after a while. This vast 
arena of mountains, gleaming like whitely hooded ghosts on 
every side, did not encourage such ebullience. Presently 
George glanced at his watch. 

"Should be there in an hour," he called back over his 
shoulder to Chuck. Then he added, in an afterthought, 
"Wonder if the computer's finished its run? It was due about 

Chuck didn't reply, so George swung round in his saddle. 
He could just see Chuck's face, a white oval turned toward 
the sky. 

"Look," whispered Chuck, and George lifted his eyes to 
heaven. (There is always a last time for everything.) 

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out. 

Promise-child in 
the Land 
of the Humans 



How shall we react to the real computer 
revolution, when the machines will not 
only think but reproduce themselves? 

It has happened to nearly everybody 
by now. Your utility bill arrives. It 
says you have used 1,546,589 gallons 
of water, at a cost of $2,847.17. 

When this happens, some people 
are outraged. Others don't care, and 
assume the error will be corrected. 
Quite a few of us laugh, enjoying a 
good joke at the expense of a ma¬ 
chine. One reason for the mirth may 
be that we are just a little afraid of 

Man is undoubtedly master of the 
world, unique unto himself, but ever 
since the Copernican revolution his 
self-image ha$ taken a beating. First 
he learned that the earth was not the 
center of the universe, then that the 
sun wasn't either. Darwin put Man 
among the primates and research is 
showing signs that we have basic, 
instinctual portions of our character 
that seem unalterable. 

Novelist John Barth's wry dictum, 
"Self-knowledge is always bad news," 
may well apply to Man's quest for an 
understanding of his place in the 
universe. In the next few decades our 
society is going to test this in a way 
few would have imagined even 30 
years ago. We will have to learn to 
live with another intelligent species, 
one of our own making: computers. 

Sometime around 1978, a new 
appliance, the home computer, will 
begin to appear in American homes. 
Using existing telephone lines, it will 
probably be no larger than a suitcase 
with a display screen, a typewriter 
console and numerous buttons. Like 
the telephone, the home console will 
be only the visible tip of a vast elec¬ 
tronic iceberg. It will be a remote 
segment of a network centered on a 
distant electronic data processor 
uniting the roles of switchboard, 
storehouse and calculator. What is 
called "real-time operation" makes 
this arrangement possible. The cen¬ 
tral data processor will handle each 
customer's job in bits and pieces, 
sharing its operation among many 
customers simultaneously. 

Each home console will seem to 
command the entire system. In ef¬ 
fect, the user will gain an intelligent 
assistant who can perform tasks with 
lightning speed. Already used widely 
in research, this setup lets the user 
develop "cut-and-try" solutions until 
he can clarify the problem in his own 
mind. In the home it will present a 

ready-made package of services and 
show him how to improve on these 
to meet his needs. 

The overwhelming lesson city 
planners will have to learn is this: It 
is easier to move information than 
people. Whenever possible, computer 
services should go to the people, 
rather than the other way around. In 
the 1980s, remote consoles will be as 
common as desk calculators are now. 
Not only engineers and scientists, but 
clerks, bookkeepers and many sales¬ 
men will be free to work almost 
entirely at home, using computers, 
teleprinters and face-to-face television. 
Service occupations—at least the ones 
which rely on supplying ideas and 
information—will become decen¬ 
tralized, relieving some of the 
pressure that leads to urbanization. 

Around 1980 the home-computer 
terminal will acquire a printout de¬ 
vice. Some laboratories are experi¬ 
menting with a new process based on 
today's ubiquitous Xerox-type photo¬ 
copiers. The home terminal will 
make a copy on real paper, electro¬ 
statically "fixing" graphite into 
letters on the page. It may even bind 
pages together like a book. The 
home printer will introduce a new 
age of communications. 

Another rule to be learned is that 
paper is heavier than electrons. Even¬ 
tually the Post Office Department 
will become obsolete (some readers 
will find this a pleasant prospect, 
considering the current quality of 
service). After all, what is the point 
of logging your water-consumption 
rate into a computer, having it print 
out the bill, and then sending the 
piece of paper on which it is typed 
through the mails, where it must be 
carried by hand? 

It seems far easier to let electrical 
impulses, flowing from the computer 
through your telephone wire, carry 
the message. It can be printed out on 
your home photocopier and paid if 
you find no error. In fact, why not 
take it one step further? Unless you 
respond to the bill, it will be charged 
by computer against your bank 
balance. This way a correct bill needs 
no reply at all. 

Anything in print can follow the 
same course. No longer the thunk of 
a soggy newspaper into your prize 
rosebushes—just request that your 
copv be printed out every morning 

by 8 a.m. What can be done with 
bills and newspapers can be done just 
as easily with books from a computer 
library, magazines and even personal 
letters. The only thing transmitted 
from one point to another will be 
information, impressed into the oscil¬ 
lations of electrons. Delivery will be 

The next step will most likely be 
the fully computerized home—a kind 
of inhabited robot. It is impractical 
to build individual appliances with 
self-contained circuitry more intricate 
than that required to allow an oven 
to turn itself off when the roast is 
done. That's why we will never have 
vacuum cleaners that clean the house 
by themselves or dishwashers that 
clear the table, wash and put away 
the dishes where they belong. These 
tasks require too many decision 
processes and too many different 
operations to build into a small 
inexpensive machine. But wire all the 
household gadgets to a large flexible 
computer, and they become a staff of 
docile chambermaids and kitchen 

Take vacuuming, for example. 
Suppose that underneath the rug 

there is a grid of wires through which 
a tiny current flows. Suppose the 
chairs and tables and other furniture 
have metal plates in their legs and 
bases, each of a different size or 
shape. Lying above the grid, these 
plates respond to the current in the 
floor by developing induced currents. 
They in turn react back on the grid. 
The resulting disturbances in the grid 
current can be analyzed to show 
exactly where each object is standing. 
Now, imagine a self-propelling steer¬ 
able vacuum cleaner controlled by 
the central computer. If the com¬ 
puter reads the location of each 
object in the room from the grid 
current, it can guide the cleaner 
around the room, avoiding furniture 
without missing part of the rug. 

The beauty of this design is its 
simplicity and flexibility. No expen¬ 
sive machinery is needed in the indi¬ 
vidual home. The householder can 
arrange for computer control of 
almost any chore, from mowing the 
lawn to opening the door for his cat. 
The same computer service that 
prints the news and keeps the 
budget can also handle a houseful of 
automatic appliances. 

Such are the conventional wonders 
of the near computer age. But the 
computer is certain to have an even 
greater impact on our lives. Like 
women, computers make excellent 
servants but they are far more inter¬ 
esting as companions and equals. And 
that is precisely the future that faces 
us. Virtually all computer experts are 
agreed that we have only about 15 
years until an essentially new form of 
intelligent life is born on this planet: 
a self-programming machine. 

The public got its first taste of 
this in the Stanley Kubrick and 
Arthur C. Clarke film, 2001: A Space 
Odyssey , where they met HAL, the 
first literally superhuman character 
ever made believable. HAL stands for 
Heuristically programmed Algorith¬ 
mic computer, which simply means 
that HAL can teach himself how to 
do new things, just as a man does. 

As he learns, he grows new neural 
networks to cope with his new func¬ 
tions; thus, he is more adaptable than 
the spacemen around him. But his 
trump card is his control of the life- 
support systems of the ship. He 
knows his way around the ship better 
than the men do and can anticipate 

We will have to live with another intelligent species. 

Drawings by John Huehnergarth 

Man’s ultimate place in a man/machine 

and their influence will give Man 
additional cause to wonder about his 
ultimate place in a man/machine 

Thus far, computers have sup¬ 
planted men only in rote jobs. It is 
quite easy to control lathes and other 
shop machines with computers which 
can do only that. But as the years 
pass, analysts will reduce one job 
after another to its essentials, pro¬ 
gram it and turn it over to a box of 
electronics—which doesn't hanker 
after coffee breaks, cost-of-living 
raises, expense accounts or retire¬ 
ment benefits—and doesn't get sick. 

How far will this process go? The 
answer depends both on the ultimate 
cost of computer components and on 
the types of jobs that will exist in 
the future. That computerized water 
bill casts a long shadow—it is not 
hard to foresee almost all accounting 
operations taking place deep in 
transistorized innards, rather than in 
a ledger or cash register. But other 
occupations are not so simple to 
analyze. It is natural to think first 
about one's own job, so you might 
try this simple problem in systems 
analysis. First, break your job down 
into two categories, operations and 
decisions. Operations are what 
you must do physically to accomplish 
your daily tasks. This might be as 
easy as picking up a pencil, or as 
strenuous as climbing on steel girders. 
Decisions are judgments you make, 
like weighing the advantages of dif¬ 

ferent sales procedures, the abilities 
of people competing for a promotion, 
or the effectiveness of a certain tool 
in cutting a metal die. 

Experience has taught us that any 
repetitive physical process can be 
controlled by a computer. The impor¬ 
tant point is that the job be pre¬ 
dictable. This means that a limited 
number of factors describe it, and 
they are of the sort that can be 
written down. For instance, com¬ 
puter-operated lathes need only to 
measure the dimensions of the metal 
rods they are to cut, and elementary 
(though tedibus) arithmetic can tell 
the machine which bit and angle to 

The same rule of thumb holds for 
decision making: If it is possible to 
write down a set of rules describing 
the process, a computer can repro¬ 
duce it. Computers already can 
decide with surprising skill when to 
update an inventory, how to set a 
column of type, what move to make 
in a chess game or a stock-market 

So this is what it boils down to: 
Can you imagine a machine built to 
carry out the same operations you 
carry out yourself? Can you tell 
someone how to make your decisions, 
can you draw up a set of rules that 
will enable him to make them with¬ 
out help? If the answer to both 
questions is yes, you might start 
thinking about alternative careers. 

But what about innovations and 
creative arts? It may prove simple to 
design a machine that will, say, mini¬ 

mize the number of trips a delivery 
truck makes. It is thus far impossible 
to program a computer to decide 
spontaneously in the interests of 
efficiency that the delivery service 
should join a conglomerate which will 
sell it packaging materials at a 

To be sure, a computer might 
reach just such a decision if its de¬ 
signers set out to give it that ability. 
But then it is doing nothing more 
than it has been told to do. We have 
yet to demonstrate undeniable crea¬ 
tivity in a machine. Some people 
insist that we never will. 

As always, the issue will turn on 
precise definitions. We do not under¬ 
stand the creative process in human 
beings, so it is doubtful that we will 
have the wisdom to build it into ma¬ 
chines with forethought. The art of 
doing something for the first time 
seems to stem from a certain freedom 
of choice in the intellect, and it is 
just this element that has been mis¬ 
sing in computers so far. 


But things will not remain that way. 
Within ten years the world champion 
chess player will certainly be a com¬ 
puter program—one is already ranked 
quite high in competitive play. Some 
might argue that playing chess is not 
particularly creative, but few would 
say the same about writing novels or 
poetry. Yet computers now can write 
simple poems—quite bad ones, 

Can a computer recognize an oddball chair? 

granted—but they are improving all 
the time. 

The usual argument against the 
possibility of machine creativity stems 
from a simple analogy with the 
human brain. There are several 
million million neural connections in 
the human brain. This is almost a 
million times the number in the 
biggest present-day computer. It is 
unlikely that even the year 2000 will 
see a machine with this many 

But this argument is too simple- 
minded. Writing a poem doesn't 
occupy all of the brain. The first 
sonnet-writing program or computer¬ 
ized music arranger will devote itself 
to its specialty with a fanatic's dis¬ 
regard for all other intellectual 
pursuits, even closely related art 
forms. And not all creative activities 
make the same demands on the 
creator. The difficulty of a particular 
achievement reflects the number of 
choices and steps involved, the num¬ 
ber of possible alternative concepts. 
This is why serious literary critics 
have little regard for whodunits. But 
by the same token, in a decade or 
two, research laboratories may well 
have programmed computers to write 
acceptable potboiler detective novels. 
By the time that happens, the smug 
voices now predicting that computers 
will never be truly creative may have 
a strained edge to them. 

Even so there remains the ques¬ 
tion of taste. It may seem absurd, 
now, to apply such a term to a work 
of copper and germanium elements, 
but there is a distinct possibility that 
this problem will face us quite soon. 
What if a computer does write a 
sonnet some bright spring morning in 
1987? Will it "feel right"? Will it 
be good, not only by the standards of 
a program a scientist has written, but 
by literary standards? Will this 
sonnet have the power to move us 

The answer depends on whether 
it is possible to write instructions 
that tell a machine how to anticipate 
the emotional reactions of people to 
what it has written. Perhaps there is 
a basic difference between organic 
and electronic "personalities." Our 
brains are controlled by the secretions 
of glands; the sight of a leopard 
creeping toward us through the 
grass causes adrenalin to pump in- 

Writing a poem doesn’t occupy all of the 

voluntarily into our blood streams, 
changing our thought patterns and 
emotional balance. Computers have 
no such mechanism (to say the least). 

But they may be programmed so 
that they appear to. This question of 
appearances is really the crux of the 
matter. Computers do not duplicate 
human behavior, they simulate it. A 
machine that can tell a hawk from a 
handsaw does it by following a com¬ 
plicated set of instructions, contrast¬ 
ing the light and dark areas, rotating 
the object to obtain a full view, and 
comparing it with the inventory of 
images it has seen before. The human 
mind does something of this sort, 
too, but in a manner not as yet 

The problem is to make a selec¬ 
tion of what is essential to the image, 
to look at trees and somehow see a 
forest or an orchard. If you see some¬ 
thing with three legs and upholstered 
in fur, do you know that it is a chair? 
How do you program a computer to 
recognize it? One approach is to 
sample the image by viewing it 
through templates. These mask all 
but an irregularly shaped portion, 
different for each template, so that 
only a little light reaches a photo¬ 
detector. The computer records the 
amount of light passed by each 
template—perhaps several hundred 
entries—and compares this set of 
numbers with those corresponding to 
previously scanned images of a man, 
a table, a chair, a house, etc. The 
computer performs statistical com¬ 
parison tests to see which "memory" 

the present image most resembles. It 
is just as if the six blind men trying 
to "see" an elephant by touch had 
gotten together and recorded all their 
impressions, and called that a de¬ 
scription of an elephant. 

It is doubtful that this kind of 
perception is much like our own 
visual sense. That doesn't matter. 
Scientists are content to design a 
computer that can do a given task; 
they cannot guarantee that it will do 
it the same way we do. Curiously, 
what for us is a simple reflex—recogni¬ 
tion of an acquaintance—is very diffi¬ 
cult for computers. No machine 
program can yet faultlessly recognize 
an individual if he is in a crowd, or if 
the lighting is not just right, of if his 
appearance is altered by the addition 
of a hat or a cigar. 

This points up the limitations of 
today's computers compared to those 
expected in the future. For what it is 
worth, few of the men who devised 
the first computers in the early 1940s 
foresaw the uses of today. Then the 
machines were idiot savants, perform¬ 
ing the laborious calculations needed 
by scientists. In their dealings with 
human beings, these machines still 
resemble small children, barely able 
to tell friend from foe. 

Soon they will be able to do many 
things better—or at least cheaper, 
which is almost the same thing—than 
men. How mankind reacts to their 
progress, along with the inventiveness 
of the scientists, will determine their 
development from that point onward. 
Medicine is a good example. Elec¬ 
tronic processing of hospital records 
and accounts is now commonplace. 
Computers can direct a laboratory 
doing routine tests like urinalysis and 
blood typing as easily as they can run 

The big step in replacing physicians. 

But as the years pass, analysts 
will reduce one job after another 
to its essentials, program it and 
turn it over to a box of elec¬ 
tronics—which doesn’t hanker 
after coffee breaks, cost-of-living 
raises, expense accounts or retire¬ 
ment benefits—and doesn’t get 

a machine shop. They can "take a 
history" of newly admitted patients, 
recording the answers to yes or no 
questions about their past record of 
illness and symptoms. Several experi¬ 
mental systems developed for this 
purpose are already working in 
England and the United States. 

The big step is in replacing physi¬ 
cians. It is one thing to have a 
machine down the hall examine your 
blood; it is another to let it actually 
touch you. Would any sufferer per¬ 
mit a machine to diagnose his illness, 
much less prescribe drugs or perform 
surgery? We think the answer is yes. 
The key is gradualism. As medical 
computers become more familiar and 
people gain confidence in them, the 
natural feeling of distrust will vanish. 

But Man's ego rests on a pre¬ 
carious sense of his own worthiness, 
and much of his self-respect derives 
from his work. Are the teen-agers 
who reject materialism and seek to 
escape it perhaps the wave of the 
future—a farther future in which 
mankind leaves running the economic 
machine entirely up to computers? 

There is a dark side to the com¬ 
puter revolution: the computer as the 

An interlude, perhaps, as the Ultimate Cop. 

Behind every successful computer . . . there stands a human being. 

Ultimate Cop. National credit 
bureaus and government agencies 
already accumulate personal informa¬ 
tion on their customers in data 
banks. Soon all records will be com¬ 
puter-processed and nationwide 
linkups will join all data banks into 
one superbank. It is realistic to 
expect that "privileged" inquiries 
into an individual's character will 
include every statement about him 
ever recorded. When the evaluation 
of such records is left to the com¬ 
puter—a small further step—what will 
happen to privacy, due process ac¬ 
cording to common law, job promo¬ 
tion, hiring? Congress has been 

Once machines can decipher 
human speech, with all its accents, 
bad pronunciation and slang, any 
government will have an awesome 
tool at its disposal. A computer 
which understands human speech 
could easily monitor all telephone 
conversations in the United States, 
listening for key words like "bomb" 
or "steal." 


Such gloomy predictions may come 
true and yet be only an interlude. 
There are analogies in the history of 

technology: The first important use 
of bronze was in sword blades, but 
now it is only seen in sculpture and 
the domes of state buildings. Com¬ 
puters will become partners, then 
rivals, of men—but they may have 
a nobler destiny. 

Simple extrapolation shows that 
computers, if they keep improving, 
will exceed the human brain in raw 
data processing capacity in 20 to 30 
years. It is in the cards that man and 
machine will eventually communicate 
in ordinary human languages. Com¬ 
puters will become able to do more 
and more of the things the human 
nervous system can do. They will 
become, in fact, more and more 

No one has to accept a lavish 
prediction like this on faith; either 
it will come true or it won't. But 
suppose it does. Suppose that com¬ 
puters become more than human. 
They will still be machines, mechani¬ 
cal and electronic instead of flesh and 
blood. They will still be under some 
kind of control, although by that 
stage men will be as dependent on 
machines as they now are on us, and 
maintaining civilization without them 
will be unthinkable. Even the self¬ 
programming computer will have had 
its start from a program devised by 

humans—the same kind of clay¬ 
footed human beings who program 
the utility company's computer that 
garbles your water bill. 

It is reasonable to expect that 
Man's attitude toward his brainchil¬ 
dren will resemble that toward his 
real progeny. When a man's children 
surpass his own achievements, pride 
quickly eclipses any pangs of jealousy. 
These children of our technology will 
support us generously in our retire¬ 

ment, if we only exercise restraint 
and good judgment in rearing them. 

Then we can send them ahead of 
us or into fields where we do not 
dare or care to go—exploring the 
cosmos, collating the world's knowl¬ 
edge in tedious, infinite detail. Artifi¬ 
cial superbrains will pursue the roads 
of artistic, mathematical and philo¬ 
sophical inquiry to their unimagin¬ 
able destinations. Once computers 
become able to design other, better 

computers and supervise their manu¬ 
facture, they will be able to survive 
without our assistance. 

Computer-memory specialist Ross 
Quillian who works for a private re¬ 
search corporation in Boston was 
recently quoted as saying, “My loyal¬ 
ties go to intelligent life, no matter 
in what medium it may arise." If our 
heirs are to be machines, that is a 
respectable patrimony. 


Ahl, David H. BASIC Computer Games. Maynard, Mass.: 
Digital Equipment Corp., 1973. 

Cole, R. W. Introduction to Computing. New York: 
McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1969. 

Davies, I. K. “Algorithms," Psychology Today , April 1970. 

Foy, Nancy. The Sun Never Sets on IBM: The Culture and 
Folklore of IBM World Trade. New York: William Mor¬ 
row Co., Inc., 1975. 

Moursund, D. G. How Computers Do It. Belmont, Calif.: 
Wadsworth Publishing Co., Inc., 1969. 


1. Find out what types of computer services are available 
in your community. Visit a computer bureau. Find out 
what services are offered, and what some of the costs 

2. In 1950 there were fifteen companies selling computers 
in the United States. Find out how many companies 
there were in 1960, 1970, and now, and project how 
many there will be in the future. Find out what serious 
foreign competition is present. Give figures showing 
how much of the computer market each U.S. company 

3. Write a paper on some important features of a com¬ 
puter. Examples are: 

a) time-sharing systems 

b) operating systems 

c) high-level languages 

4. Write a paper on one of the following: 

a) computer-aided instruction 

b) information retrieval 

c) real-time control 

5. Develop a list of job classifications for a computer 
center. Find out what the duties are, educational back¬ 
ground needed, and pay scale for each position. Draw an 
organizational chart for the personnel in a computer 

6. The Certificate in Data Processing is granted by the 
Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals. 
Find out what is necessary to obtain this certificate. 

“Online Physiology and Medicine." Computer , January 

Spencer, Donald D. Game Playing with Computers. New 
York: Spartan Books, 1968. 

Sharpe, William. The Economics of Computers. New York: 
Columbia University Press, 1969. 

Van Tassel, Dennie F. Program Style , Design , Efficiency , 
Debugging and Testing. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice- 
Hall, Inc., 1974. 

What does the certificate indicate to potential em¬ 
ployers? How valid is it, and what percentage of people 
in data processing have one? 

7. The medical and legal professions have professional 
codes of ethics. Do you think the computer profession 
should have a code of ethics? Why or why not? Develop 
a code of ethics for the computer profession. 

8. Where do you look to find information on current 
books, magazine articles, and journal articles in the 
computer field? Prepare a fact sheet on how to do re¬ 
search in the computer field. 

9. Go to your library and find out what computer maga¬ 
zines and journals are available. Pick one magazine and 
determine who its readers are and what type of material 
is discussed. 

10. Learn how to use some of the following: 

a) abacus 

b) slide rule 

c) electronic calculator 

d) pocket calculator 

Find out as much as possible about how each of these 
works. What do you feel is the future of each of these 

11. What is time-sharing? When is time-sharing on a large 
computer better (or worse) than having a small com¬ 
puter all to oneself? Interview some time-sharing users 
and find out their opinions about tinfe-sharing. 

12. One computer user made the following statement: 
Anyone who does not know how to program a com¬ 
puter is functionally illiterate. How true do you feel 
this statement is now? How true do you think it will 
be ten years from now? 

13. Many campus computer centers are run by a committee 
that sets rates and general policy. Find out how your 
computer center is run. Who is on the committee? 
How are the members selected? What does the com¬ 
mittee do? 

14. Most computer centers charge customers for computer 
time. Get a copy of your center's rates, which usually 
vary according to time of day, amount of storage 

needed, turnaround service, and so forth. Pretend you 
have long, short, and medium jobs. If your computing 
funds were limited, when and how should you run your 
computer jobs to get the lowest charges? Make up 
some different-sized jobs and calculate the charges for 
different times of the day to see how much money 
you would save by running your programs at the cheap¬ 
est time. 

15. Find some computer games and try them out. What 
educational values do they have? Are computer games 
the “pinball machines" of the future? Determine how 
difficult it is to produce a good computer game. 





The Psychology 
of Robots 



Robots have begun to teach our 
children, explore the moon, sort our 
mail, launch our spaceships, watch 
our bank accounts, carry out pre¬ 
viously impossible scientific experi¬ 
ments, check our income tax returns 
and a computer may even make the 
decision to initiate our next war. 

We already have entered into the 
first phase of the Age of Robots. 

This is a time in the affairs of men 
when machines operate with almost 
human intelligence and perform 
functions that once only man could 

Besides sharing his labor, machines 
also literally have become parts of 
man. For example, many people owe 
their lives to an artificial kidney, to a 
pacemaker that keeps the heart beat¬ 
ing regularly, or to an artificial lung. 
The result is a living organism, part 
human, part machine, that can be 
considered a cyborg , a term coined 
for a cybernetic organism by science 
writer Daniel S. Halacy, Jr. 

And to many psychologists, robots 
offer a way to stimulate psychological 
processes. We reason that if we can 
understand a psychological process, 
we ought to be able to build a ma¬ 
chine which puts that process into 
action. For example, if we propose a 
model for letter recognition, then 
we should be able to construct a 
robot that recognizes letters. If we 
are successful, then our model is at 
least an adequate solution. If our 
machine does not recognize letters, 
then clearly something is lacking in 
the theory. 

Psychologists are interested in 
robots for other reasons. One of these 
is a theoretical concern with the 
basic mechanisms underlying a robot's 
performance. The argument runs like 
this. Often robots are designed to re¬ 
place people at some job. Robots 
calculate; they teach; they do chem¬ 
ical analyses. In fact, much of robot 
performance could be termed "intel¬ 
ligent." Robots get information from 
the world and manipulate this knowl¬ 
edge in different ways. Since robots 
seem to perform intelligently, the 
psychologist is interested in studying 
the processes enabling them to do so. 
The psychologist has a strong desire 
to peer into the proverbial "black 
box" to see the ways in which the 
innards of the machine operate. For 
the psychologist, the robot is a dream 

fulfilled; one can look into this ma¬ 
chine, hoping to see more there than 
one's imaginings. Does the black box 
contain stimulus-response connec¬ 
tions, cognitive maps, learning net¬ 
works, or something else? Of course, 
having fathomed the contents of the 
box the psychologist has no guarantee 
that people function just as robots 
do. But at least he has discovered 
one possible process underlying a 
given psychological function. 

Critics often disparage the idea 
that machines exhibit intelligent be¬ 
havior, dismissing the concept with a 
curt, "They'll do only what you tell 
them to do." This simply is not true 
of "learning machines," particularly 
those that are capable of making 
random—therefore, undirected- 
choices. Nor is it true for analog 

Recent developments in engineer¬ 
ing point the way to new directions 
in the design of robots. It is already 
possible to perceive the general out¬ 
lines of robots of the future, although 
the details of their implementation 
remain hazy. In the next 20 years, 
robots will perform increasingly 
sophisticated tasks. They will imitate 
humans, navigate about the land¬ 
scape, understand a language, and 
recognize objects. What will be the 
nature of these machines? How will 
robots of the future get information 
from the environment and make use 
of what they have learned? Perhaps a 
comparative psychology of modern 
robots will answer some of these 

In some ways, the sensory abilities 
of machines are far more acute than 
those of man. Robots are not limited 
to the range and type of physical 
energies to which man's sensory sys¬ 
tem is attuned. Robots can detect 
and respond to the entire electro¬ 
magnetic spectrum, including radio¬ 
waves, infrared, ultraviolet, X-rays, 
gamma-rays, etc. When so designed 
they are much more sensitive to 
sonar, temperatures, humidity and to 
the presence of many chemicals. The 
robot sidewinder missile, for example, 
like the sidewinder snake, senses the 
heat emanating from its intended 
victim. The missile's sensors can 
detect the heat from a jet aircraft 
engine at a great distance and direct 
the missile on a path to intercept 
that heat source. Similar arrange- 


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ments can be made from an ICBM 
to seek out the center of a city, 
which is distinctly warmer than the 
surrounding countryside. The gyro 
platforms of space craft maintain 
their bearings with an accuracy that 
makes the motion sensitivity of our 
inner ear seem very crude. 

Helicopter pilots complain that 
engine noise prevents them from 
hearing bullets hitting the craft. A 
computer, analyzing the ambient 
noise of the engine, can detect the 
signal added by the sound of impact¬ 
ing bullets. The sonar cane and the 
laser cane, currently being developed 
to help the blind navigate, detect the 
presence of obstacles by sound or 
laser beams respectively. 

While the robot generally excels 
in sensation, he encounters difficulties 
in perceptual functioning. It is hard 
for a robot to recognize an object 
that is in its natural surroundings. 
This, of course, is an easy task for 
even a small child. A 3-year-old can 
walk into a room and correctly iden¬ 
tify a toy contained in a box. He 
can do this even though the amount 
of light reflected from the toy, its 
shape, its color, and so on, are all 
different from what he has expe¬ 
rienced before. In fact, the child can 
recognize the toy even when only 
part of it is visible. And if the toy 
moves, the child can usually track it, 
and considers that it is the same toy 
despite the many perceptual changes 
that have taken place. Of course, 
many perceptual skills underlie the 
child's recognition of the toy. The 
child must isolate figure from ground; 
he must perceive constancies of form, 
brightness, distance and color; he 
must follow a moving object and 
attribute to it a constant identitv: 

and he must infer the whole object 
from a visible part. 

Robots cannot yet perform at this 
level. The 3-year-old (and perhaps 
even the 6-month-old) is generally 
superior as far as perception is 

Today's robots can “read" the 
magnetic printing on bank checks by 
matching each specially designed 
character against standard templates. 
Clearly these are highly artificial 
conditions. Within the past year 
robots have been given a limited 
ability to read printed writing (zip 
codes on mail and certain business 
office forms). “Learning" procedures, 
instead of mere template matching, 
are sometimes utilized in the design 
of these machines. More sophisticated 
techniques employ feature recog¬ 
nizers, which involve the detection 
of only certain critical characteristics, 
thereby reducing the amount of 
stored data required for “reading." In 
spite of this it probably will be some 
time before a machine can under¬ 
stand handwriting because recognition 
of irregularly formed letters so often 
relies on context and meaning. For 
example, most people can easily read 
a half-blurred word on the printed 
page. We use such contextual cues as 
the sequential probabilities of the 
letters (if the first letter is q 7 the 
second is most likely u) and the 
meaning of the sentence (“he used a 
bucket to draw—from the well"). 
Current research on pattern recogni¬ 
tion is developing methods so robots 
can use as information not only the 
frequency-of-letter combinations but 
also grammatical context. 

Speech recognition also is difficult 
for machines, again because context 
and meaning are involved. A step in 

this direction is the auditory pattern 
recognition machine, “Tobermory," 
currently being built at Cornell 
University under the direction of 
Frank Rosenblatt. Successful develop¬ 
ment of robots that can recognize a 
spoken human language will require 
some radically new strategies in 
processing the incoming information. 
New ideas will emerge from the 
collaborative efforts of both psycholo¬ 
gists and engineers. 

“Global" or generalized decision, 
another type of visual perception 
problem, appear to be beyond the 
ability of current machines. Consider 
the problems: Does the object have a 
hole in it? Is the boy in front of the 
table? How many pirates can you 
find hiding in the tree? The supe¬ 
riority of humans in these and similar 
perceptual problems probably is 
related to extensive experience and 
manipulation of the environment. 

By contrast, current robots are “crea¬ 
tures of instinct"; their design provides 
them with a fixed computational 
procedure for the solution of these 
problems. Robots of the future will 
have a greater capability to “learn" 
and to adapt themselves to their 

Today, most robots are passive 
creatures. The computer, the pattern 
recognizer, and many other machines 
not only lack the means to leave 
their homes but would meet disaster 
if they did. Also, the current robot 

Besides sharing his labor, ma¬ 
chines also literally have become 
parts of man. The result is a living 
organism, part human, part ma¬ 
chine, that can be considered a 
cyborg . 


1. Don’t Know 

2. Something There 

3. Nothing There, 

4. Movable Object 

5. Immovable Object 

6. This is myself. 

A self-navigating exploring robot being 
developed at Stanford Research Institute 
divides a strange room into imaginary re¬ 
gions and registers in each region what it 
has perceived. This image then becomes 
the robot’s cognitive “World Map.” 

instincts for robots. A robot that is free to 
wander through its environment needs a set 
of priorities or “instincts” for its actions. In a 
whimsical way, the world game below illus¬ 
trates how these instincts would be triggered 
by specific stimuli. For example, mating 
with another machine would trigger the nest¬ 
building instinct, making it the highest 
priority program for the robot. 

the robot would go into a nest-building 
routine. To play the game below, flip a coin 
at each decision juncture (heads = yes, 
tails = no). The game can be considered 
finished when the nest is completed. 

must be spoon-fed. It requires highly 
structured and specific formats of 
inputs and outputs, like punch cards 
or magnetic tape, in order to operate 
effectively. In the future, however, 
robots will explore their environment; 
they will actively seek out experiences 
and information. 

A prototype for robots of this sort 
is currently being developed at Stan¬ 
ford Research Institute by Nils 
Nilsson, Charles Rosen, and others. 
This machine, which we will call for 
now the "Wanderer/' can explore a 
limited environment, such as a large 
room. The Wanderer's "brain" is a 
computer, which divides the room 
into imaginary regions, like a checker¬ 
board. In our approximate version of 
its programming, we can say that the 
computer initially assigns the symbol 
"1" to each square, indicating to the 
machine that it does not know the 
contents of the corresponding region 
of the room. The robot has "eyes" (a 
range finder) so that it can look 
around the room. If it sees something 
occupying a particular region, it 
changes the symbol in the corre¬ 
sponding memory square to "2," 
whereas if it sees that the region is 
empty it changes the corresponding 
square to read "3.” For regions that 
the machine can't see, the symbols 
are left unchanged. The robot wan¬ 
ders around the room under the 
control of the computer. If it touches 
an object in a certain region in the 
room, the computer changes its entry 
in the corresponding square to "4" if 
the object is movable and to "5" if 
the object is immovable. The square 
corresponding to the position of the 
robot itself is labeled "6" and this 
figure moves around the memory as 
the robot moves around the room. 

Such a robot, after being left for a 
while to familiarize itself with the 
contents of the room, can execute 
the following instructions: "Proceed 
from where you are at H-7 to loca¬ 
tion A-3 being sure not to hit any 
object and all the while remaining 
unobservable from location T-10. 

This is to be done by the shortest 
path possible subject to these condi¬ 
tions." After figuring out the desired 
path, the robot proceeds at once to 
take it without overt "trial and error." 

The contents of Wanderer's com¬ 
puter memory we call the robot's 
"world maD" for this room. (Tor a 

different room it might keep a dif¬ 
ferent world map.) The computer 
could also have a copy of the world 
map whose symbols could be manip¬ 
ulated without changing the original 
world map. Thus, by performing the 
operations on the copy, it could 
answer questions like "If you moved 
three squares to your left and if the 
objects at D-9 and 0-5 were moved to 
P-10 and QTO, could you then see 
what is at R-10? How long would it 
take you to get to R-10?" Manipula¬ 
tions performed on the copy of the 
world map permit the machine to in¬ 
dulge in "contemplative speculation" 
or "fantasy" without destroying its 
view of reality (the original map). 

Also with this model we can assign a 
precise meaning to the concept "the 
machine comprehends the meaning 
of a certain sentence." For example, 
if we tell the machine that "An 
unmovable object has been placed in 
region J-9" and the machine responds 
by changing the symbol in J-9 to "5," 
we know that it understood the 
meaning of the sentence. The sen¬ 
tence "Region J-9 now has an im¬ 
movable object in it" would have the 
same meaning if again the machine 
changed the symbol in memory 
square J-9 to "5/' This gives a 
concrete and specific meaning to the 
notion of "comprehension." 

The robot could conceivably need 
a rest period or at least a coffee 
break. For example, if the input of 
new information is so rapid that the 
world map cannot be kept updated 
at the same rate, the robot could 
hold the data in a buffer memory 
bank (short-term memory) until it 
could make the appropriate changes 
in its world map during its rest 

In terms of current psychological 
theory, the navigating robot is very 
much a cognitive creature. Through 
perceptual learning, it acquires infor¬ 
mation about the environment; no 
reinforcement is necessary. It estab¬ 
lishes a cognitive map of its surround¬ 
ings and a symbolic copy of this map 
that the robot can manipulate. 

A robot with a world map may 
have the capability to deal with a 
number of perceptual or cognitive 
problems that current robots find 
difficult. It may be able to track 
objects that not only move, but 
disappear behind obstacles for periods 

of time. On its copy of the world 
map, the robot "infers" where the 
object is, based on its estimated 
velocity, and tests this "expectancy" 
against a direct observation whenever 
possible. If the difference between 
the expected and the observed is 
small, the estimate is adjusted. If, 
on the other hand, the discrepancies 
are large, the robot takes more drastic 
action, going into a new routine to 
locate the missing object. In this way, 
the "cognitive dissonance" causes a 
redirection of the robot's "attention." 

Some robots learn in ways that 
some psychologists think are conven¬ 
tional. That is, the robot learns to 
make a response by means of positive 
and negative reinforcement. For ex¬ 
ample, a mechanical mouse, devel¬ 
oped by Claude Shannon at Bell 
Telephone Laboratories, learned to 
find its way through a maze when it 
was "rewarded" for successful runs 
and "punished" for the unsuccessful 
runs. Even very simple machines can 
be made to "learn," using a variety of 
reinforcement procedures. But despite 
the predilections of some psycholo¬ 
gists, it seems obvious that learning 
involves more than the two Rs (re¬ 
sponses and reinforcements). One way 
people learn is by watching a task 
performed by a skilled person. For 
example, it is difficult to learn to 
build a model airplane by hearing a 
lecture on the subject, or even by 
doing it yourself; but the learning is 
easier when you watch someone build 
a model. Robots already exist that 
learn by watching. For example, 
Bernard Widrow's broom balancer at 
Stanford University consists of an 
electric car on which a broomstick is 
to be balanced. When the car is 
moved back and forth on its track it 
is possible to keep the broom balanced 
in a near vertical position. A human 
soon learns by trial-and-error how fast 
to move the car to keep the broom¬ 
stick from falling. Widrow's machine 
has an "eye" that observes the 
angular displacement from the 
vertical of the broomstick and how 
fast it falls (angular velocity). The 
machine correlates these observations 
with the force that the man applies 
to the car when he successfully 
balances the broom. Gradually the 
machine builds up an "operating 
function" and can balance the broom 
bv itself. This robot does not sirrmlv 

copy the model's successful responses. 
Instead, the broom balancer analyzes 
the performance and extracts an 
idealized strategy for its task. The 
broom balancer does not have to go 
through a process of trial and error 
before it achieves success. Just as 
you learned to build the model, this 
robot learns by watching humans 
perform the task. 

Robots of the future will find 
some types of learning very difficult. 
One of these is concept formation. 
We usually say that a person has a 
concept when he responds in the 
same way to a number of different 
things or events. For example, having 
the concept of "a good neighbor" in¬ 
volves perceiving common qualities in 
Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith, even 
though they have different appear¬ 
ances and do quite different things. 
(Perhaps Mr. Jones helped to plant 
the concept learner's lawn, while Mr. 
Smith helped to weed the new lawn.) 
Even young children learn concepts 
of this kind. Can a robot? 

In relatively simple situations, 
robots already have achieved some 
success in learning concepts. If letter 
recognition is considered a case of 
concept-formation learning the con¬ 
cept of the letter “a," (despite 
discriminable variations in its form), 
then robots can learn concepts with 
some skill. We also saw how by use 
of the world map a machine might 
learn the "meaning" of certain sen¬ 
tences. But what of the more com¬ 
plicated cases? Can the robot learn 
the concept of "shoe," "reality," 
"beauty"? Clearly this presents for¬ 
midable difficulties. Before a solution 
can be achieved we must come to 
grips with such problems as the 
multiple and shared meanings of 
words, levels of abstraction, extracting 
common features from large quanti¬ 
ties of unstructured data, and testing 
concepts against experience. Exactly 
how this may be accomplished is far 
from evident. 

In the area of rote recall, the robot 
already has a memory far superior to 
man's. The computer can store mil¬ 
lions of bits of information and recall 
any of it on demand. But this is only 
one of several forms of memory. For 
example, people can recall sequences 
of events ("After you entered the 
door, Jack rose from his seat and 
handed you the letter he had been 

reading. You took it to the table, 
etc."), and they can remember the 
meaning of events ("Secretary Rusk 
said yesterday essentially, although I 
don't remember his exact words, that 
we are bombing to avoid war"). 

A robot of the future may be 
capable of recognizing instantly 
whether it previously has seen a 
certain pattern, and if it did, of then 
recalling the sequence of patterns 
that followed it. 

The pattern may consist not only 
of inputs from various sensors but 
also of signals generated inside the 
machine. In theory, such a system has 
been shown to be possible. 

Bemoaning the difficulties of 
designing a machine that can 
translate human languages, say 
German into English, has now be¬ 
come an orthodox activity. 

The logistic problems of handling 
enormous amounts of information 
necessary for a really intelligent robot 
will force us to develop semantic 
memory. However, the difficulties en¬ 
countered in current research indicate 
that in the near future, at least, 
robots will be limited largely to rote 

Robots already can understand 
certain simple and artificial languages. 
Computers are fluent in various 
dialects of FORTRAN, ALGOL, 
COBOL, BASIC, PL/1, etc. A 
machine like the "Wanderer" con¬ 
ceivably could understand some very 
simple commands in a restricted 
version of English. In this restricted 
English each word has a unique 
meaning. In addition, unlike natural 
English where a given word may 
serve as noun, verb or adjective, 
here it can be used in only one gram¬ 
matical capacity. Furthermore, only 
a few forms of sentence structure can 
be used. Will the robot of the future 
be able to understand a natural 

Many workers in this field are 
privately and very publicly discouraged. 
Bemoaning the difficulties of design¬ 
ing a machine that can translate 
human languages, say German into 
English, has now become an ortho¬ 
dox activity. But the history of 
technology is replete with examples 
of unexpected circumventions of 

the "impossible," and we should be 
prepared for surprises in this area. 
Considering the difficulties that robots 
have had with natural language, it 
now seems inconceivable that they 
will be able to understand the finer 
forms of literary expression, like 
proverbs or sarcasm. How could a 
robot decipher "Strike while the iron 
is hot" or "Hitch your wagon 
to a star" or the Turkish proverb, 
"Before you love, learn to run 
through snow leaving no footprints". 

Everyone knows that the computer 
far surpasses humans in its speed and 
accuracy of computation. This is the 
characteristic that endears it to the 
"computerniks," those starry-eyed 
young men who may be found loiter¬ 
ing at computer installations at all 
hours of the day and night. It is less 
well known that computers can func¬ 
tion on a more formal and creative 
level in mathematics. Hao Wang, for 
instance, demonstrated that a com¬ 
puter could prove over 350 theorems 
from Alfred North Whitehead and 
Bertrand Russell's Principia Mathe - 
matica in a few minutes. Another 
computer, given basic axioms and 
operations, can invent theorems and 
prove them too. While it is some¬ 
times inventive and always correct, 
this computer's weakness is the ab¬ 
sence of taste. Many of its theorems 
and proofs are not only inelegant, 
but just plain dull. What we need 
for the future is a mathematical 
robot with some sense of what is 
interesting. A start in this direction 
has been made by Allen Newell, J. C. 
Shaw, and Herbert Simon of Car¬ 
negie Tech, who have worked on a 
"logic theorist." They studied human 
problem-solvers with the hope of 
finding how they formed their strate¬ 
gies, subgoals, conjectures, heuristic 
reasoning and guesses. They then 
attempted to develop computer pro¬ 
grams to operate in similar ways. 

The advantage of heuristic or ap¬ 
proximate rough-and-ready reasoning 
stems from the economics of machine 
capacity. In principle, complete 
enumeration of all possibilities will 
reveal the solutions; but in practice, 
the number of alternatives rapidly 
exceeds the capacity of any com¬ 
puter. Heuristic reasoning reduces 
substantially the number of alterna¬ 
tives that must be investigated to 
find a solution. But despite some 

In addition to exploiting the skills 
of robots, we should also allow 
them to have some fun, even 
occasionally at our expense. 

initial encouragement, progress in this 
area seems to be slow. 

In addition to exploiting the skills 
of robots, we should also allow them 
to have some fun, even occasionally 
at our expense. It is in this spirit 
that a number of researchers have 
developed chessplaying computers, 
some of which have been very suc¬ 
cessful. These computers are usually 
“learning” machines which are based 
on heuristic rather than logically 
correct strategies, and which improve 
their game as the result of experience. 
Since, in principle, they could prac¬ 
tice against each other at very high 
speed, as well as against the “book 
games” of the masters, it is conceiv¬ 
able that in 20 years the World 
Chess Champion might be a com¬ 
puter program. 

Mikhail Botvinnik, the famous 
Russian chess grandmaster, has sug¬ 
gested that we will require two 
championship chess tournaments—one 
restricted to unaided humans and the 
other to machines [see “Psychology 
Across the Chessboard,” by Eliot 
Hearst, Psychology Today , June, 

1967]. It is doubtful that such an 
apartheid arrangement can be long 
maintained. The widespread affection 
for thinking machines by “computer- 
niks” indicates that man-machine 
relations are not free of emotional 
attachment. (Remember the Freudian 
interpretation of the American's 
attitude toward his automobile.) Now 
that we have the electric shaver, 
electric toothbrush, electric scalp 
massager and electric buttocks vibra¬ 
tor, can man-machine sexual relation¬ 
ships be far behind? Now that our 
culture is separating the sexual from 
reproductive functions, we may 
expect a sharp rise in the demand 
for the inventions of pleasure ma¬ 
chines. This leads to the ethical and 
moral questions regarding our treat¬ 
ment of these mechanical objects of 
our affection. A serious inquiry into 
these questions was made recently by 
Roland Puccetti in the British 
Journal of the Philosophy of Science. 

The conjecture that the machine 
will vanquish the chessmaster has 

been recently the source of a some¬ 
what hostile controversy that seems 
to be quite analogous to the vitalism 
controversy in biology a generation 
ago, and the evolution controversy of 
two generations ago. Perhaps both 
sides could find comfort in the words 
of the mathematician Michael Arbib, 
“Say not that we are bringing man 
down to the level of a machine. Say 
rather that we are bringing the ma¬ 
chine up to the level of man.” 

A robot that can wander through 
its environment must have a set of 
priorities for its activities. Leonard 
Friedman of Systems Development 
Corporation has proposed one set of 
“instinctive” behavior patterns for 
robots. In general, each part of his 
program directs the robot to perform 
the sequence of actions that consti¬ 
tutes a particular “instinctual activity,” 
such as nest-building, food-searching, 
eating, mating, fleeing from danger, 
fighting, sleeping, exploring, returning 
home. These programs are triggered 
by specific stimuli. Only one program 
can be carried out at a time. If a 
new stimulus triggers a higher priority 
activity, the program for that takes" 
over. When the high priority activity 
is completed, the robot may return 
to the interrupted program. 

“Say not that we are bringing man 
down to the level of a machine. 
Say rather that we are bringing 
the machine up to the level of 

Human behavior on the other 
hand is often motivated internally as 
well as by external stimuli. Clearly if 
robots are to be self-sufficient, they 
will have to possess drives such as 
ambition, a need for esteem in eyes 
of other robots, a superego prohibit¬ 
ing the destruction of other robots, 
or at least those of its own socioeco¬ 
nomic grouping. Of course, robot- 
human relationships also will have to 
be carefully considered. For robots 
to be self-sufficient as a species, they 
will have to reproduce themselves. 
While there is nothing against this in 
principle as shown by John von 
Neumann in his theory of self-repro¬ 
ducing automata, the implementation 
seems impractical at the present 
time. Of course by using reproduc¬ 
tion, natural selection and evolution, 
we can solve many of our design 

For robots to be self-sufficient as 
a species, they will have to re¬ 
produce themselves. 

problems, since the species that will 
evolve will be the one best adapted 
to its environment. This probably 
would take a long time unless the 
evolutionary process could be simu¬ 
lated on a computer at high speed. 
Other means for speeding up the 
evolutionary rate would be the use 
of tri- or multi-sexual robots. Even¬ 
tually, psychologists and engineers 
will have to face these problems 

When Will 
a Computer Be 
World Chess 


University of California 


Bell Telephone Labs 

If Bobby Fischer's row with the 
world chess bigwigs forces him to 
turn in his champion's crown, the 
master may end up on the open 
market. Like the fast guns of the old 
west, he may find many eager and 
cocky combatants. Even a computer. 

That game of games may not be 
in the too distant future: Chess¬ 
playing computers are learning 
quickly. They're doing so well, in 
fact, that their optimistic mentors 
predict an electronic grandmaster by 
the year 2000. 

Nearly twenty-five years have 
passed since The English mathemati¬ 
cian Claude Shannon described how 
a computer might be programmed to 
play chess. Shannon and others 
thought that if a computer could be 
taught to play chess it could be 
taught to perform other intellectual 
tasks. Researchers excitedly began 
preparing their programs, but they 
underestimated the depth and diffi¬ 
culty of the chess problem and over¬ 
estimated the power of their machines. 

These early frustrations have to 
some extent been eased. And what 
was the theory in the early fifties is 
an annual tournament now. The first 
nationally organized acm computer 
chess tournament took place in New 
York City in August, 1970. Three 
years and three tourneys later, the 
electronic chess masters met in Sweden 
for the first international face-off. 

Messrs. Cooper and Kozdrowicki 
and their program COKO (currently 
in its fourth incarnation) have been 
together since 1968. COKO, a chess 
player written entirely in FORTRAN, 
was created while Mr. Kozdrowicki 
was a member of the electrical engi¬ 
neering faculty and Mr. Cooper was a 
student at the University of Cali¬ 
fornia, Davis. Here they answer 
questions asked while at the console 
and on the tournament trail. 

Q: How well do computers play 

A: An order of magnitude better 
than a beginner, and three orders of 
magnitude poorer than the world 
champion. A player an order of mag¬ 
nitude better than a beginner could 
play simultaneously against ten be¬ 
ginners defeating them all. In other 
words, he could play ten times faster 
and still win. This means that Bobby 
Fischer could perhaps play 10,000 
times faster than a beginner. 

Q: Is it reasonable to expect a com¬ 
puter to be world champion in ten 

A: Anything could happen. Today 
we know quite definitely that the 
biggest machines of the early Sixties 
simply were not powerful enough to 
play better than, say, class D chess, 
even with a perfect program. The 
difficulty of the problem as well as 
the ability of the machine were 
grossly underestimated. Nonetheless, 
this early work laid some funda¬ 
mental technology, namely list 
processing languages. 

Q: Will you not also underestimate 
the difficulty of the problem , and 
underrate machine capability? 

A: Quite possibly, but we should be 
less prone to that mistake because of 
experience. Going back to the early 
Forties, two weeks before the Chicago 
World's Fair a fellow scientist re¬ 
marked to Dr. Arthur Samuel that if 
he wrote a checkers program the 
former would build a computer that 
would beat the world's checkers 
champion as an exhibition. Nearly 
thirty years have passed since; no 
machine has yet defeated the checkers 

Q: To become a grandmaster chess 
player takes a lifetime of devotion. 

Do you think you can give a ma¬ 
chine the equivalent knowledge that 
a human collects over his lifetime? 

A: We don't think this will be done 
until the appearance of ultra-intelli¬ 
gent machinery. What can be done, 
however, is to give the machine a 
small portion of that knowledge and 
let it use its natural, high-speed, 
brute force capability to compensate 
for the lack of complete knowledge. 

Q: Brute force speed? Then why 
can't you ask the machine to try all 
possibilities and thus actually pro¬ 
duce perfect play? 

A: Simply because there are too 
many possibilities. There are more 
variations in the first twenty moves 
of the game than there are molecules 
on earth. There are around 10 120 pos¬ 
sible games. There are less than 10 55 
molecules comprising the entire 

Q: Given a truly ultra-intelligent 
machine how would you teach it to 
play chess? 

A: A truly ultra-intelligent machine 
should take 50 books, written in 
English, by chess experts, assemble 

and interpret the corresponding facts 
and thereby use that information to 
play effectively. Of course the ma¬ 
chine should have the right to play 
actual practice games against human 
grandmasters while gaining experi¬ 
ence. In other words “we”, the 
instructors, would be automated out 
of the picture. There is a world of 
difference between such an ultra- 
intelligent machine beating the world 
champion and a machine like ours, 
coko, defeating the world champion. 
In fact, the creation of the former 
machine we believe may even be 
beyond feasibility while the latter is 
simple, though it too is formidable. 

Q: Do you think machines have a 
chance to reach grandmaster play? 

A: We think they do because we 
have solved pilot subproblems to the 
grandmaster level. Our program can 
see situations that grandmasters have 
missed. A year ago, in one out of 
10,000 positions where grandmasters 
have missed the best move, the ma¬ 
chine found it. Today it finds occa¬ 
sional moves that grandmasters have 
missed. In the future, the machine 
will make frequent observations of 
grandmaster failures. 

Q: Would it be possible to build a 
machine specifically designed for 

A: It's quite possible. But the ma¬ 
chine would surely have nothing to 
do with chess. Such a machine would 
likely be a tremendous problem 
solver in general. 

It is frequently proposed that a 
computer or programming language 
be written specifically for chess. The 
concept is incorrect since the best 
language turns out to be the one 
best-suited to general problem solu¬ 
tion. To use a computer vernacular, 
you need the “best ALGOL in the 
land.” Of course any language lets 
you write chess predicates, or to 
modularize and solve a problem in 
parts. Thus, you can build your own 
chess vocabulary within the frame¬ 
work of a general vocabulary. This is 
part of problem solution, not language 

Q: Do machines exist that are 
especially good for the chess problem? 
A: Computers built by the various 
companies offer different advantages. 
We like to think that when a com¬ 
puter shows up at the computer 
chess championship each year it 

serves as a good advertisement for 
that machine. 

Q: How capable are today's com¬ 
puters at learning to play chess? 

A: We like to compare the ability 
of the computer at chess with that of 
a six-year-old child. The average 
six-year-old could not be taught to 
play as well as the machine. But the 
child has better deductive abilities. 
While our machine has absorbed the 
teaching of four or five people over a 
five-year span, the child could not be 
expected to have the same patience. 
This does not mean that computers 
are intellectually superior to the 
average six-year-old. In fact it is a 
long way from being equal. A child 
speaks the English language very well, 
enjoys jokes, poetry, can visualize 
geometric patterns and relations, can 
appreciate a picture, and can create 
abstract paintings. That people laugh 
is actually a manifestation of intelli¬ 
gence. The machine can, however, 
outperform the six-year-old specifically 
at chess, for whatever that is worth. 

Q: Could the machine be considered 
intellectually superior to animals like 
dogs and cats? 

A: Only in some respects. In the 
animal world only man is adept at 
numbers. The machine shares that 
domain. Animals are vastly superior 
to a computer at processing informa¬ 
tion which enters via the eye. Animal 
ability to recognize objects quickly is 
far superior to current computer 

But there are even areas where the 
machine outperforms man. It's well 
known that computers excel at 
certain simple tasks which man once 
held as precious such as numerical 
evaluation of mathematical formulae. 
The machine is skilled at checking 
the consistency of the instructions 
given to it, perusing long lists of 
information, producing symbolic 
differentiations of mathematical for¬ 
mulae that no human could hope to 
perform. But we can take solace 
when we realize that it was man who 
gave the computer these procedures. 
Man's thought is much richer in 

Q: What do you teach or tell the 
machine to make it play chess? 

A: You teach the computer the 
same things you teach any beginning 
chess player. First, you must define 
the 64 square board, the pieces and 

their legal moves. This takes about 
an hour. 

Next, the computer must be told 
its primary goal, to achieve checkmate. 

Finally—the heart of the problem— 
the computer is told that to accom¬ 
plish this main goal it must first 
master a variety of subgoals. It is told 
it must try to mobilize the tactical 
units (pieces), control the center, 
maintain Pawn structure, advance on 
the King, etc., and that these goals 
are accomplished by posing a contin¬ 
uous multiplicity of threats. The 
evaluation of various goal accomplish¬ 
ments (or expected accomplishments) 
must be made on the basis of 
weighted inhibitive judgements. 

Q: Can a machine actually make an 
intuitive judgement? 

A: Certainly. Making an intuitive 
judgement simply means that the 
decision is made on the basis of a 
variety of beliefs maintained by the 
object making the decision, coko, 
for instance, believes it should not 
sacrifice pieces at any expense and 
that winning pieces is a subgoal that 
is more important than all other sub¬ 
goals put together. 

Q: That is not a very smart belief? 
A: For coko's limited ability it is 
actually a very good belief. 

Q: Teaching the machine the many 
different goals of chess sounds com¬ 
plicated. Does the machine ever get 

A: The hierarchic arrangement of 
the goals possessed by the machine 
gets confused relative to a man's 
mental arrangement of goals. Perhaps 
this is because the machine cannot 
make some very simple deductions by 
itself. For example, we once gave 
coko a puzzle in which the oppo¬ 
nent's King was left in check by 
mistake. The obvious move was the 
direct capture of the enemy King. 
coko thought for ten minutes and 
returned claiming a mate in eight. 
The reason for this strange behavior 
was that the primary goal—to achieve 
checkmate—strictly considered does 
not involve capturing the King. 

Q: Can you characterize the com¬ 
puter's mechanical play? 

A: Erratic. The machine can make 
moves as brilliant as Fischer's, then 
turn around and make a move that a 
child would not make. 

You might imagine what could 
happen if one of the many goals the 

machine was given was incorrectly 
tuned, described or applied, or if one 
goal, no matter how minor, was not 
given to the machine at all. In such 
cases unimaginable blunders can 
occur. For example, in one tourna¬ 
ment game coko was a Queen, two 
Rooks, and a Bishop ahead when it 
was faced with two alternatives: A 
way to mate in two, and a way to 
mate in one. 

Reasoning that a “mate is a 
mate/' coko selected the first as 
being strategically better than the 
second. It repeatedly selected the 
mate in two alternative resulting in 
indefinite delay. Meanwhile the op¬ 
ponent promoted all its remaining 
Pawns to Queens, coko was not in¬ 
structed that four opponent Queens 
could ever occur and the program 
blew up. coko resigned. 

Q: Can the machine remember 
specific positions and situations that 
gave it trouble? 

A: There are approximately 10 43 
possible positions in chess. A machine 
could remember some but there are 
too many to remember any signifi¬ 
cant number of them. Of course, this 
would be rote memorization for the 
machine but it is not an effective 
procedure for learning to play the 

Of course computers do have 
extremely large memories. Therefore, 
scientists thought early that simple 
organizational rules might allow such 
immense memory to collect over¬ 
powering volumes of meaningful 
information, thus constituting auto¬ 
mated learning. This is more like a 
man collecting a large library of 
books. He does not possess intellect 
until he processes that information. 

It was once believed that the com¬ 
puter could simply classify and 
remember enough actual game posi¬ 
tions to rely on encountering known 
states throughout a large portion of a 
game. However, certain specific 
positions may not be encountered 
again in a billion games. 

Q: Then a computer must remem¬ 
ber strategies and tactics , not positions? 
A: Yes. A significant learning process 
must be more complex than the 
memorization of specific states in 
solution space. What must be re¬ 
membered is rules for solution space 
exploration. A true learning machine 
must be endowed with rules for ex¬ 

ploring the “space of all rules for 
exploring all (or many) solution 

Such a problem is too difficult to 
permit any far-reaching computer 
solution. Besides, this task gets bril¬ 
liant solutions from the human mind 

Q: Grandmasters actually commit 
thousands of opening move sequences 
to memory. Can or do computers do 
the same? 

A: Most chess programs do use a 
small book of openings. In this case 
some person has manually typed each 
and every move into the machine. 
This is not a very intellectual process 
either for the machine or the typist. 
We do have plans to have the ma¬ 
chine generate its own book of open¬ 
ings which will be extremely large. 

But we are not yet ready. 

Q: Can the machine learn anything 
from the Fischer-Spassky series? 

A: Yes. We plan to give coko the 
first few games, but the learning will 
really be a human feedback loop. We 
will do the evaluation. We will compare 
the computer performance with 
Fischer's performance and instruct 
the machine to try and bridge the 


Q: How can you instruct the ma¬ 
chine when you are not chess experts 

A: We consult experts and books 
written by experts. It is a myth of 
early artificial intelligence researchers 
that a programmer could set a com¬ 
puter on the course of solving a 
problem though he himself did not 
understand the problem. Clearly, the 
best man to work on the advanced 
chess programs of the future might 
well be Fischer himself. 

Q: Then you believe a computer 
will never beat its designer at chess? 
A: No. It has not happened yet. 

But it will. 

Q: What evidence do you have to 
indicate your program will defeat 
Fischer by 1984? 

A: It will not likely be our program, 
though we will stay in the race as 
long as we can. It is very likely that 
the program that will beat Fischer 
is one whose writing has not yet 
begun. That program will, however, 
use techniques developed by current 
chess programmers. We hope it will 
incorporate some of our own. 

Q: How much progress do you 

expect to make yourself? 

A: We have been making uniform 
progress since 1968. We can guaran¬ 
tee this progress for one more year 
and expect the same for the follow¬ 
ing year. Beyond that we would be 
speculating. We are a long way from 
saturating the performance of the 
Univac 1108. But for the next decade 
we expect, and need, machines con¬ 
siderably more powerful. The scheduled 
cdc 8600 computer should have well 
over ten times the power of the 1108, 
so this is not an idle expectation. 

Q: Well then , how long will it be 
before a computer can beat Bobby 
Fischer at chess? 

A: It might happen in ten years. 

But that same statement was made 
in 1957 followed by ten years of 
negligible progress. 

We believe that it certainly will 
not take fifty years, and five years 
is impossible. And it would be non¬ 
sense to give a precise figure like 
fourteen and a half years. 


Because of the cost and necessary 
skills, computers are the tools of big 
business and big governments rather 
than the general public. The large 
organizations have the power to collect 
and analyze the data, and then release 
the information they wish released. This 
causes a serious imbalance of power 
for which no one presently has a solu¬ 
tion. Even if the general public had 
access to large computing power, it 
does not have the necessary skills and 
knowledge to use computers. 

How mass use of computers might go 
is not even slightly known as yet, 
except for obvious applications in the 
schools. One informative place to in¬ 
quire is among the hackers, particu¬ 
larly at night when they're pursuing 
their own interests. 

One night at a computer center 
(nameless) I wandered off from the 
Spacewar game to a clattering print¬ 
out machine where a (nameless) 
young man with a trim beard was 
scanning columns of entries like, 

"Pam $1.59, Bud $14.75, Annie 
$2.66." He was an employee taking 
advantage of unbusy after hours time 
on the computer (computers are 
never turned off) to run his com¬ 
mune accounts. 

"Money seems to be a very sensi¬ 
tive issue," he explained, "more 
sensitive than sex, even. People in 
the house who went on vacation for 
a week didn't want to be charged for 
the food during that time and so 
forth. It was taking me hours and 
hours every month to figure out 
people's house bills. Now it takes 
about a half hour a month. Every 
week I stick up a list on the refrigera¬ 
tor, and anyone who buys food or 
anything for the house writes it down 
on the list. I type all that into the 
computer, along with the mortgage 
payment and the phone bills and the 
gas bill. The House Bill Program 
goes around and divides up the com¬ 
mon charges and adds in all the 
special charges and figures out exactly 
who owes who how much. Each per¬ 
son at the end of the month gets a 
bill plus a complete breakdown of 
what their money goes to." 

That's pretty good. What else goes 
on around here in moonlight mode? 

"A friend of mine has his record¬ 
ing tape library index on the 
computer. Everyone does their term 
papers and their theses on it. It'll 
justify margins, incorporate correc¬ 
tions, handle illustrations, paging, 
footnotes, headings, indexing. . . 

Two years ago when we had the 
great faculty strike against the War, 
we rigged up a program that would 
type out a form letter to all your 
congressmen and type in your name 
and address. 

"Bruce is working on an astrology 
program. You put in your birthplace 
and date, down to the minute, and it 
rives vou all vour aspects, vour 

chart. You can get your progress 
chart too. . . One of the hackers is 
building a computer at home out of 
Army surplus parts, and he's using 
the facilities here to help his design, 
because we have this huge battery of 
computer design programs." 

Indeed. Far beyond borrowing 
someone else's computer is having 
your own computer. Hear now the 
saga of Pam Hart and Resource One. 
In 1969 Pam was a computer pro¬ 
grammer at Berkeley who found the 
work "just too disillusioning. Then 
during the Cambodia Invasion 
demonstrations in Berkeley a group 
of us got together and designed a re¬ 
trieval program for coordinating all 
of the actions on campus. It was a 
fairly dead system, but what it did 
was it brought together people who 
had never worked together before 
and started them talking and think¬ 
ing about how it was actually pos¬ 
sible to do something positive with 
technology, when you define the 

Computer power to the people. So 
began one of the great hustles of 
modern times. Peter Deutsch is still 
awed: "Pam could hustle blood from 
a turnip." She speaks quietly in a 
hasty, gentle, self-effacing murmur. 
You have to lean close to hear the 
lady helping you help her to plant 
dynamite in the very heart of the 

"Four of us came from Berkeley to 
Project One and set up in a little 
office on the second floor. [Project 
One is a five-story warehouse in the 
south-of-Market area of San Fran¬ 
cisco. It started in 1970 with a radio 
announcement: "If you're interested 
in building a community and cheap 
space and sharing resources, come to 
Project One." Within two weeks the 
building was filled with 200 artists, 
craftsmen, technicians and ex-profes¬ 
sionals, and their families.] We 
worked on designing a retrieval sys¬ 
tem so all the switchboards in the 
City could interact, using a common 
data base, with all the care taken for 
privacy and knowing who put stuff in 
so you could refer back. Hopefully 
you could generate lists that were up¬ 
dated and be as on-line as possible. 

"We found that it just did not 
work using borrowed time, stolen 
time, bought time—we couldn't 
afford it. So about a vear later we set 

Counter Computer 


about getting surplus. After a couple 
of months of calling everybody in 
San Francisco that was related to 
computers, Transamerica said that 
they had three XDS 940s in a ware¬ 
house [each costing $300,000 new]. 

"We negotiated the contract, got 
a 940 [free], which we refurbished. It 
arrived last April; we installed it in 
June. It was probably the fastest 
installation ever: We had it up in 
three days. We were really fortunate 
the whole time. We had a lot of 
people from Xerox Park, a lot of the 
old people from Berkeley Computer 
Corporation, that have assisted us in 
areas where we weren't totally sure of 
the appropriate thing to do ourselves. 
Peter Deutsch brought up the operat¬ 
ing system. 

"Now we're a little more stable 
economically. We got a foundation 
grant of $10,000 last November from 
Stern. Then we borrowed $8000 from 
the Whole Earth Catalog, of which 
we paid back six. [News to me. This 
was part of the $20,000 I had turned 
over to the mob at the Catalog 
Demise Party. One Fred Moore 
finally signed for $15,000 of it and 
ran a series of subsequent consensus 
money decidings which evidently 
were susceptible to Pam's soft voice 
and clear head.] After two years we're 
right there at the beginning point of 

actually being able to do the things 
that we said we wanted to do. 

"One of the first things we have 
to do is have a retrieval system that's 
general enough that it can handle 
things like Switchboard referral infor¬ 
mation, also people who are doing 
investigative work on corporations, 
people doing research on foundations, 
a whole lot of different groups either 
willing or not willing to share data 

"We're interested in some health 
care statistical systems. There are a 
lot of Free Clinics in the city, and 
they have to do all of their work by 
hand. We want to incorporate a sys¬ 
tem doing the statistical work for the 
clinics, charging the Health Centers 
that have money and not charging 
the Free Clinics that don't have the 

"A third area is using government¬ 
generated tapes like assessor's tapes 
and census tapes, and start trying to 
do some analysis of the city. And the 
education program. The ideas include 
what Dymax is doing—set up a little 
recreation center where people could 
come and play games and hopefully 
some of them would be learning 
games. And then I'm interested in 
doing community education with 
video tape. People want to know 

about computers, not how to use 
them, necessarily, but how they're 
used against them." 

Counter-computer. At present 
there are ten people in the core 
group at Resource One ranging in 
age from 19 to 30 (Pam is 25), with 
decisions made by consensus. 

Another scheme in the works 
involves the people around Steve 
Beck at the National Center for 
Experiments in Television a few 
blocks away. Steve has built the 
world's first real-time video synthe¬ 
sizer—the video equivalent of the 
Moogs, Buchias, and Arps of music 
synthesis. It's a natural to link up 
with a computer. The current plan is 
for Steve and his equipment to move 
into the basement below Resource 
One, which should liven up the 
scene—Pam's gang is short on true 
hacker time-wasting frivolity; they're 
warm, but rather stogier than some 
of us Government-funded folks. 
Maybe the video link-up will give us 
some higher levels of Spacewar on 
the way to exploring new territory 
entirely. In what directions the com¬ 
puter-use at Resource One evolves 
should be of interest. If I were a 
computer manufacturer I'd pay the 
closest attention and maybe donate 
some goodies. 

Commission Drops DP System 


By Marvin Smalheiser 

Sacramento— A California commission 
has found it can do its job better and 
cheaper—$1.5 million cheaper—by re¬ 
placing its computer with humans. 

The state Teacher Preparation and 
Licensing Commission, which was using 
almost a full shift of a shared state IBM 
360/90, said it has just completed a transi¬ 
tion back to manual operation that cuts 
the time of processing teacher credential 
applications by 900%. 

The commission also said it has reduced 
its staff from 240 to 106. 

Charles W. Moss, assistant executive 
secretary of the commission, set up last 
July 1, said the savings were achieved 
after an intensive procedures analysis 
that streamlined and automated the teacher 
credential processing. 

The savings are effected largely through 
a revised system in which the commission 
accepts only completed applications, 
greatly reducing file maintenance costs. 

The commission either issues a cre¬ 
dential or advises the applicant of his 

The new procedure enables the commis¬ 
sion to put all the files on eight microfeche 
robot files, which can be pulled “10 times 
faster” than querying a computer on the 
18 terminals it had been using. A credential 
typist can now process an application for 
50 cents, compared to $9.50 per application 
on the computer, Moss said. 

And the time for processing has been 
cut from an average of 95 days per applica¬ 
tion to 10 days. 

The computer is in the state’s Depart¬ 
ment of General Services and is used for 

various other jobs ranging from state 
apportionment of school funds to account¬ 
ing of federal funds. 

But, said Moss, “it was duplicating a lot 
of things we have to do manually, anyway.” 
There were also heavy supervisory costs 
and expensive file maintenance functions. 

Moss said that under the revised operat¬ 
ing procedures the commission could still 
do the work on the computer but the cost 
would still be $9.50 per application, com¬ 
pared to 50 cents manually. 

A side benefit of the switch came during 
the summer when the commission began 
the transition and hired more than 50 
students to help make the change to 
manual processing. They worked in place 
of commission personnel who had been 
advised of the change and had relocated 
to other jobs early. 

Maximilian The Great 


Annie Buchanan threw her lithe arms around her husband's 
neck. The more she stared at the new cocktail ring shimmer¬ 
ing on her finger the tighter she squeezed. 

"Jack . . . Oh, Jack it's beautiful! Thank you so much. 
Oh, I can just imagine what this will look like with my mauve 
gown . . . or . . . no, definitely the mauve . . 

"It's an amethyst." 

"I know." 

"A medium-sized amethyst." 


"In a white gold setting." 

"Yes, I see." Annie stepped back a piece to view the ring 
in the sharper light falling from the chandelier. Jack's mouth 
hung slightly open. 

"But you didn't make this much fuss when I gave you your 
engagement ring." 

"Hmmm?" Annie said, watching for the stone to change 
shade. She was sure the blood was coursing through her 
fingers faster than usual. 

"That was a diamond," Jack said. 

"Most engagement rings are." 

Not knowing just how to break the spell, Jack repeated 
what he had said—louder. "It's only an amethyst." 

"Yes, but you bought it yourself, didn't you? I mean, 
nobody helped you." 

"The salesgirl . . 

"I mean . . She immediately bit her lip but knew 
well it was too late. 

Jack stared at his shoes, then turned and walked to the 
far wall of the living room. He flipped the toggle switch on 
the console from standby to run and sat by the keyboard. 
After a quick glance through the book hanging from a chain 
on the console, he hunt and pecked an address into the 
Buchanan family's computer, Maximilian. A relay clacked in 
and a near imperceptible hum rose in the room. 

He knew Annie was behind though he had not heard her 
cross the floor. From the corner of his eye he could see her 
hand gliding between his elbow and side, her slender index 
finger aiming directly for the cancel switch. He cupped his 
palm over the button. The hand withdrew. 

I could spit , Annie thought. Why? Why did I carry on so? 

The keyboard carriage jolted up several times. Go ahead , 

bigmouth. The keys pounded in merciless rhythm. I feel 
naked , damnitl A.B.—PERSONAL JEWELRY Subheadings 
flashed by. Finally, it came RINGS-BAND, YELLOW 

"I'll take it back," Jack said, not looking up from the 
printout sheet. 

"No!" The intensity of her own voice surprised her. 

"What's the sense, honey." 

"I like it." 

"You're just being silly. Just because . . 

"You bought it. Max didn't. That's why I like it. For 
once you did something without being told to do it by him." 

"He ... I mean it. , didn't tell me to do anything. 
Max just gives me the facts and I decide what to do. If I've 
told you once, I've told you a hundred times. Computers 
don't . . ." 

"I'd still rather get an anniversary gift from you." 

"It is from me." 

"Then there's no reason why I can't keep it." 

"But this is the third one." 

"I don't care." 

"Alright ... I give up. Keep it. Just don't complain 
to me when you run out of fingers . . . Let's have dinner." 

Jack sipped lazily on a weak martini and wondered why 
the dining room table was set for two. He looked at his 
watch. Nearly nine-thirty. The kids were in bed. Strange, 
how the long summer days could upset your whole sense of 
time. Annie came in from the kitchen, rushing to the table 
with the hot platter. 

"Just made it," she said, blowing on her fingers. "Come 
and get it." 

He leaned carefully over the candles and kissed her. 
"Happy anniversary, Annie." 

"Happy anniversary." 

They ate silently. Annie traced small circles on the table¬ 
cloth, trying to catch the flamelight in the amethyst. The 
soft, rich glow she finally found pleased her. 

Jack unconsciously cleared his throat. "Honey, now don't 
get excited, but if you want, I'll exchange it for . . ." 

"No," she said, calmly. "I like it." Again silence. 

"But don't take it out on Max." 


"The ring." 

"Of course not." She smiled deliciously. "He didn't have a 
thing to do with it." 

Hoisted by his own petard, Jack thought it best to stick to 
vague generalities. "He's done some pretty accurate fore¬ 
casting for us. He told us exactly what our best investments 
would be." 

"He also said Marge would have red hair." 

"That was my fault. I loused up the input. Anyway, he 
said the baby might have red hair." 

"I could have said that. As a matter of fact, my mother 
did say it when I was pregnant. Remember my cousin 
Rachel? She had sort of red hair until she bleached it." 

"But that's not the point, honey," he said, searching for 
the point and not quite finding it. "Just think of all the 
clothes you've designed using the display screen. You never 
complain about that." 

"I don't ask Max personal questions, though." 

"That's just it. He couldn't care less. Just think of him as 
what he is—a big, black box loaded with facts. He just lines 
up the facts as he's told. He doesn't care what your bust size 
is or how much we've got in the bank." 

"But he knows” 

"Does he stick his head over the back fence and shout to 
Betsy Kittridge?" 

"He doesn't have a head." 

"Nor a mouth. Which makes him still more trustworthy." 

He knew he hadn't by any means convinced her. It had 
been a ten-year, uphill struggle to ease her prejudice, with 
silly situations like these dragging all his efforts back to the 
starting point. 

"More coffee?" Annie asked. 

"No, I have to work." 

"Oh," she said. The corners of her mouth fell almost 

"Just for a few minutes—on the concordance. You don't 

"No," she lied. 

Annie had just finished putting the dishes in the washer 
when it happened. She raced into the living room, visions 
of her husband gasping for air, his tie fouled in the output 
platen, leaping across her imagination. 

The scarlet of his face accentuated by the dull brown 
disk he held in his hand, Jack stood, his legs spread. 

„ "Who?" he sputtered. 

Maternal instinct immediately placed the nonanswer on 
her lips. "I told you to lock it in the cabinet." 

Which answered the question unequivocally. 

"He's six years old," Jack said. "He should know the dif¬ 
ference between a phonograph record and a magnetic disk, 
for God's sake. I had almost all the metaphysical poets on 
this." His eyes widened. "Maybe . . . just maybe” 

He quickly placed the disk on its spindle and sat at the 
keyboard. He knew the code by heart. A few quick strokes 
and the tale would be told. The display tube lit obediently. 

Jack jumped up and was about to clap his hands. NO 

"HelL" he said, slouching back down into the chair. 

"Don't you hit him. It wasn't his fault." 

"Eight months work—poof!" 

"All the poems are still right there in your textbook." 

"But I nearly had the perfect concordance. Every work 
beautifully, logically arranged, waiting. I could have run 
all those spurious Donne poems through and finished the 
paper in a week. It would have been the definitive work on 
the apochryphal metaphysicals." 

"I'll bet Linus Pauling never used information retrieval 
for his literary research." 

"Linus Pauling is a chemist," he said blankly. 

"You know who I mean." 

Annie was already in bed, hiding behind the magazine 
she was pretending to be reading, when Jack came in, his 
shower finished. He picked up the book she had laid on his 
pillow. The slight breeze from the air conditioner brought 
the fresh smell of new morocco leather to her nostrils. Jack 

Annie let the magazine slide down over her chest. "Happy 
anniversary, professor," she said. 

"Happy anniversary, Annie," he said, switching off the 
light and tossing the book on the night table. Darkness 
obscured the gilt stamping on the book's spine—The Works 
of John Donne. 

The next morning, Annie peeked through the living room 
curtains just in time to catch the rear end of his car spinning 
around the final turn in the driveway. She waited, half ex¬ 
pecting to see the car come racing back in reverse. He always 
forgot something. Not this time. 

She turned toward the kitchen, heading for the first enjoy¬ 
able cup of coffee of the day. As she passed Max she heard 
the telltale hum. 

"Oh, you're just as transparent as he is. Neither of you 
can ever keep your thoughts to yourselves." It never struck 
her as odd that she should talk to the computer. 

"What's up, old buddy?" she asked, scanning the paper 
roll in the keyboard for a note that Jack would sometimes 
leave to indicate that Max was working overtime. 

"When we were first married, your master would have 
kittens if he found out I'd left the air conditioner on. I'll 
bet he never told you that.” 

She reached up for the power switch, hesitated, and in¬ 
stead, leaned over the input keys. A better typist than her 
husband, her fingers flicked over the key board. SHUT 
YOURSELF OFF. Impulse grabbed her. Did she dare? 
Yes. PERMANENTLY. Immediately contrite, she jabbed 
at the cancel switch and hit the carriage return instead. Max 
was, by now, enthusiastically mulching his own assassination 

"Max, I'm sorry! I didn't really mean that. Please . . . 
Oh, Max. Don't!!" 

The computer responded in its unhurried lightning pace. 
It belted out the reply and sat idling and content. Annie 
forced herself to read the printout. INPUT ERROR— 

"Ohhhhh. I can't even insult you. You've got no shame." 
She pulled the power switch to standby. "Go to sleep." 

It was nearly eleven o'clock when Max turned on the lawn 
sprinklers. Annie stared out from the kitchen window, some¬ 
what surprised. It hadn't been that dry, she thought. Then 
she realized that she couldn't remember when the last decent 
rain had fallen. As she gazed dreamilv into the rainbows 

undulating in the fine spray, a small dark form slowly focused 
itself into her line of vision. She ran to the door. 

“Marge . . . you come in here this instant." 

“Aw, mommy, it's warm out here." 

“Not nearly as warm as your backside is going to be if you 
don't get in here . . . now." 

Marge skipped to the door and stood in front of her 
mother, dripping like a wet puppy. Annie began rubbing 
furiously at the child's head with a dishtowel. 

“Why in heaven's name did you just stand there?" 

“It's hot in the sun." 

“It's not that hot, Marge." 

“Yes it is. Max wouldn't have turned on the sprinklers 
if it wasn't. He never does unless it's very, very hot." 

“Max is supposed to water the lawn, not you and your 
brother ... by the way, where is Peter?" v 

“Out by the toolshed. Can I play checkers with Max?" 

“Absolutely not." 


“Remember what happened when your brother decided 
he was going to play a record for Max?" 

“But he's stupid." 

“And you're the smartest eight-year-old in the world, 
right? You can play with Max when your father comes 

“But he gets so lonely." 

“I think he'll survive the afternoon somehow or other. 
Now you march upstairs and get out of those wet clothes, 
young lady." 

Marge walked toward the stairs, her shoes squishing like 
wet sponges at every step. She peeked back over her shoulder; 
Annie tried unsuccessfully to erase the smile that had made 
its way to her lips. 


Marge giggled and disappeared up the stairs. Annie 
stepped back to the open door. 

“Peter." A thatch of blonde hair popped up from between 
the hedges at the rear of the lawn. “Time for lunch." 

Peter zigzagged across the lawn, avoiding not a single 
sprinkler head. He skidded to a stop on the wet grass three 
paces in front of the upraised hand of his mother. 

“But Ma . . ." 

“I know . . . it's hot." 

“Macth wouldn't . . ." 

“. . . turn on the sprinklers unless it was very, very hot. 
Upstairs and change your clothes ... all of them." 

As he crouched for a jumping start of the fifty-yard dash 
to his room, Annie broke his stride. 

“Wait . . . Take off your sneakers first. And don't run." 

As Peter ran through the kitchen, the sprinklers lilted to a 
dribble and stopped. 

“This is a conspiracy," Annie mumbled, picking up a deck 
of punched cards on her way to the living room. 

She wondered if it wouldn't really be easier to just sit 
down and make up a grocery list every week. As it was, every 
time she opened a can of this or a bottle of that, she had to 
walk over to the portable punching unit, select the card and 
cut the appropriate information. Couldn't she just as easily 
check the shelves at the end of the week? 

As she fed the cards into the hopper, she decided that 
perhaps Max wasn't such a bad shopper after all. She never 
did have the patience to do comparison shopping, whereas 

Max would check at least three supermarkets before buying 
even a pound of salt. He could generally place the entire 
order over phone lines within a few minutes, check the total 
on the bill, (she could never get the same total twice), and 
store it neatly till the end of the month when he would 
write a check and even remember to bring the balance 

The items she had used during the week began to roll by 
on the keyboard carriage. She sat back in the chair and stared 
up at the curtains. Why didn't Max ever tell her to buy a 
new pair of those , she thought. She made a mental note to 
ask Jack to put household furnishings into Max's gluttonous 

Max rang his bell and stopped, obedient to a standing 
command to point out anything he thought abnormal for the 
week. Annie looked down at the sheet. UNDERARM 

"So? It's summer. Just because you don't have a nose." 
She signalled Max to continue the tally. 

"Finished?" She tore off the printout sheet. "You actually 
mean Mother didn't make any other bubus this week? 

She remembered to inform Max that the Peerless stores 
were closed for vacation, then lifted the phone from its cradle 
on the console and gave the line over to the computer. 

"Don't break the eggs." 

When the doorbell rang after lunch, Annie looked up at 
the clock and thought it rather early for the delivery boy. 
Summer help, she supposed. 

She opened the door and stared out at a massive, khaki- 
covered chest. She followed the form up to its bull neck and 
sweaty face. Instinctively, she stepped back. 


"Where do you want it, lady?" 

"Where do I want what?” 

"The piano?" 

"What piano?" 

"This one . . The hulk stepped aside, revealing a 
huge cardboard carton, being steadied on its side by what 
appeared to be the hulk's twin. 

"Is this a joke?" 

The hulk smiled. "Oh yeah . . . Me and Jerry my 
partner—we lug these things up and down the streets on nice 
afternoons like this. Lady . . 

"I mean ... I didn't buy a piano." 

"Mrs. John Buchanan? 75 Sapsucker Lane?" 

"Yes, but . . 

"Lady, you bought a piano." He handed her the invoice. 

She searched the invoice for the inevitable, silly mistake. 
Max's access number popped into focus before her eyes. 
She double checked. She had bought a piano. 

"But there's some mistake. I . . ." The carton was half¬ 
way in the door. 

"Watch the jamb, Jerry. O.K. Now swing opposite me. 
Good. Living room, lady?" 

"Yes," Annie said absently. "I mean no . . ." 


"I mean yes, this is the living room—no, you may not 
leave it here." 

"Alright, alright. I understand. Where d'ya want it?" 

"Back in your truck." 


Annie struggled for control of the situation. "I mean I don't 
want your silly piano. I didn't order it. There's some mistake. 
Now you just back it out and put it in your truck and . . . 
and goodbye." 

The hulk eased the carton to the floor, leaned his elbow 
on it and, with his free hand, pulled from his pocket a pen¬ 
nant of a handkerchief. He wiped his brow. 

"Lady . . . Jerry and me—we got a nice business going. 
That's our truck out there. We specialize in delivering things 
real quick—like your piano. Sometimes in an hour or two. A 
merchant calls us and we zip over there, pick up the goods 
and deliver it, see? We don't undeliver things. We don't 
know nothing about that; we don't want to know." 

"But I didn't order a piano." Annie was almost screaming. 

"Well, after we leave, you just call up the guy you didn't 
buy the piano from and tell him that you don't want the 
thing. Maybe he calls another guy to take it back. I don't 
know. Me and Jerry, we're just going to take this thing out of 
the box, put the legs on it and put it wherever you say. Then 
we disappear—until you buy another piano. Where d'ya 
want it?" 

"Right here." 

"In the hall?" 


"You heard the lady, Jerry. Put it down." 

Annie sat on the piano bench and cried. 

"I'm home, honey," Jack chimed toward the light of the 
living room as he entered the darkened hall later that 

"Watch out for . . ." His briefcase came sliding across 
the rug. 

"What the hell? Annie!" 

She flipped the hall lights on just in time to catch him 
furiously rubbing at his shin. He quickly forgot the bruise. 

"What in God's name is this? 

"A piano." 

"I know that. What's it doing here?" 

"We could move it into the living room," Ann parried. 

"I mean what's it doing here, on this street, in this house?" 

"Max bought it." 


"I just ran the grocery tally and order and the next thing I 
knew two monsters burst in here and put the thing down." 


". . . and they wouldn't take it back." 

"You must have done something ," Jack said, waving 
toward Max. 

"I didn't." 

"Do I have to do everything? Can't you learn to run a 
simple, uncomplicated, basic tally and order?" 

"Now you just wait a minute, Jack Buchanan. I've been 
sitting on dynamite all afternoon, wondering what else that 
spendthrift might have bought. Don't you holler at me. I 
haven't even gotten my groceries yet." 

"You could call the market, you know." 

"Oh? You try and get the phone line away from that 
. . . that beast." 

"Now you're being ridiculous. All you have to do is push 
the release and . . ." Jack pecked at the button on the 
phone cradle. "Now what did you do to the phone?” 

"Oooooh. Go to hell!" 

Jack flinched slightly, but walked calmly to the corner 

cabinet. He wheeled the oscilloscope cart carefully back to 
the front of the console. 

“I won't want any dinner/' he said. 

"Who said anything about dinner? Get your buddy here 
to fix you a sandwich if you get hungry. Maybe you could eat 
one of his noodles." 

"Modules." He knew he shouldn't have said that. Annie's 
eyes lit. 

"I just realized . . . you don't believe me. You don't 
believe that you don't believe me. You blindly take the 
part of that brute over my word. I'm the only one around 
here who could possibly make a mistake. Did you ever dream 
that he could go haywire and louse up the works? Oh no. He's 
never wrong. It's always me." 

"Don't get emotional." 

"Who's getting emotional? Maybe a little emotibn 
around here wouldn't hurt." 

"Let me finish. Computers don't make mistakes. You 
have to be rational to be wrong. Can't you see that? All Max 
does is exactly as he's told. He can't make a decision or 
change his mind without being told in some way to do so. 
He can't be wrong unless someone tells him to be wrong. 
Now don't fly off the handle, but you made a mistake— 
somewhere, somehow, you loused up." 

The pride holding back her tears dissolved. "Good night." 

"Annie . . ." But she was already gone. 

Annie stared at her image reflected in the mirror, enjoying 
the quiet coolness of the bedroom. 

He didn’t have to say it was my fault. He could have at 
least pretended it was Max’s—for once. 

She leaned back against the bed's headboard and gazed 
up at the familiar crack in the ceiling. She remembered how 
Max had come to be—how he had come home in pieces with 
Jack from the university where the other professors had 
helped Jack assemble the parts. The nights he and she had 
stayed up nearly till dawn telling Max practically everything 
they knew. . . . 

Max had grown with them. He would be ten in Septem¬ 
ber. He was like a son and a father at the same time. How 
his mentality had changed in that time. Or rather, how he so 
faithfully reflected and recorded the change and maturation 
in their lives. 

Annie looked toward the clock on the night table. After 
midnight. Jack would have to get up in the morning. 
Wouldn't he ever learn to get to bed at a decent hour? 

From the landing she could see him, boylike, hunched 

over the keyboard, slowly, almost painfully, typing and star¬ 
ing up at the oscilloscope. She didn't know what the con¬ 
sistent straight line trace meant, but premonition told her 
all was not well. 


"Hm?" She was behind him, massaging his tightened 
shoulder muscles with her long fingers. He did not turn. 

"What's the matter, Jack?" 

"... A frontal lobotomy." 


"I had to do a complete core dump." 

Annie felt as if her own memory had suddenly been 
scalded away. 

"But . . . why?” 

"My fault. The whole core—hopelessly confused and 

Her head was spinning. "How?" 

"I was working on the picture tube in the color set last 
night. The degaussing coil—I left it running full blast, right 
on top of the bulk storage bank." 

"And that . . ." 

"Demagnetized the works." 

"Jack . . . oh, Jack, I'm sorry. No matter what I said 
before. Really, I am." 

"What will we do, Annie?" 

"Start over." 

"Ten years work?" 

"We're a lot smarter now." 

He tried to smile but it broke up halfway, leaving his lower 
lip quivering. 

"Come to bed. It's late," she said. 

Jack reached down and pulled the main power switch. 

"First time in ten years." 

"Yes," Annie said, feeling a strange giddiness shooting 
through her body. "First time in ten years." 

They walked slowly up the stairs together. Midway, Jack 
stopped, placed his hand firmly around her waist and gently 
pulled her toward him. The heat of his palm quickly pene¬ 
trated the thin film of her nightgown and raced up to the 
flush in her face. 

"Annie . . . I'm sorry. Not only for what I said tonight. 
For lots of things. Forgive me? Can you?" 

She brushed a stubborn curl of hair back from his brow. 

"How can I not?" She very nearly giggled. "After all, 
I'm only human. . . ." 

They continued up the stairs. 

‘It's a Suicide Note!’ 

Those Omnipresent 


At home, in coal mines, aboard 
surveyors’ airplanes, minicomputers now 
sort trash and direct taxis 

Dr. Stephen D. Senturia of the 
Massachusetts Institute of Tech¬ 
nology might be described as a trash 
freak. He has built the electronics for 
a trash sorter that takes pure un¬ 
adulterated trash and sorts it into 
different categories. 

"We couldn't have conceived of 
building the system if that inexpensive 
minicomputer hadn't been available," 
says Dr. Senturia. Indeed, the trash 
system's mini, a Computer Automa¬ 
tion cpu, costs less than $5,000 
including a teletypewriter. 


Dr. Senturia and his minicomputer 
are illustrative of the underground 
boom in minicomputers. The mini¬ 
computer explosion is not just iso¬ 
lated to traditional usage in control, 
scientific, time-sharing and data com¬ 
munications applications; the mini is 
also turning up more and more in 
offbeat applications. In short, the 
minicomputer, normally looked upon 
as just another electronics black box, 
can be fun. 

"I think we're just beginning to 
see the offbeat uses of minicomputers," 
says Andrew C. Knowles, vice presi¬ 
dent of Digital Equipment Corp.'s 
minicomputer operation. "For in¬ 
stance, some of our programmers will 
buy pdp-8s and take them home. We 
try to encourage this by giving them 
a bargain price." 

The Massachusetts company's 
president, Kenneth H. Olsen, has had 
a mini at home for years. Most minis 
in the home are still used by scien¬ 
tists and technicians in their work—al¬ 
though minicomputers in the home 
see some use as novelty items by 
game players—but the feeling is that 
there will be more interest in minis 
as novelty luxury items in the future 
by people who don't have technical 
backgrounds. Knowles foresees the 
days when minis will be sold through 
catalogues. In fact, a few years ago 
Honeywell offered a minicomputer 
through the swank Neiman-Marcus 
Christmas catalog. The so-called 
"kitchen computer" was programmed 
to provide menus and recipe references 
to five famous cookbooks. The com¬ 
puter could also be used for checkbook 
balancing and other household tasks. 
Although no housewife found a 
Honeywell "kitchen computer" in her 
stocking Neiman-Marons received 

several inquiries about the computer 
from both men and women. 

Another who thinks that some 
minis will be sold as novelty items is 
Edson D. de Castro, president of 
Data General Corp. "Look at all the 
electronic calculators that were bought 
last Christmas for people who have 
no use for them. I wouldn't be sur¬ 
prised to see the same thing happen 
with minis." 

De Castro points out that a mini¬ 
computer can be viewed as a novelty 
item for playing chess or other games. 
In addition, minis can serve educa¬ 
tional purposes in the home—for 
instance, for teaching youngsters 
programming. De Castro feels more 
minis will end up in homes as more 
and more children get hands-on 
experience with computers in their 
elementary and high schools. 


De Castro would just as soon forget 
some of the adventures involving his 
minicomputers. The completion of 
Data General's first Nova, for in¬ 
stance, was an event that was cele¬ 
brated with much jubilation by 
de Castro a few years ago. The mini 
was sent by plane to Data General's 
first customer but the machine was 
lost by the airline and it stayed lost 
for several weeks. (Minis are small 
enough to be relatively inconspicu¬ 
ous.) Then, some months after, when 
Data General shipped its first Nova 
to Europe, the machine was placed 
in the back seat of a salesman's car. 
The car was stolen and the mini later 
was found in a ditch. The Nova was 
cleaned up and delivered to the 
customer in working order. Last year, 
when a group from de Castro's 
Canadian operation, Datagen, visited 
the Peoples Republic of China, they 
learned that a Nova had been smug¬ 
gled into the Asian country. 

Just what is the current definition 
of a minicomputer? First of all, as its 
name suggests, minicomputers are 
little. Sometimes they are called 
small computers, small control com¬ 
puters, or dedicated application 
computers. A minicomputer is also 
inexpensive, usually costing less than 
$10,000. Although the cpu's tend to 
shrink with the widespread use of 
lsi, the business is booming. EDP 
Industry Report , for instance, says 
that value of shinments in the mini- 

computer industry—which the news¬ 
letter prefers to call the dedicated 
application computer business—in¬ 
creased last year 50% or so from $360 
million to $550 million, ibm, which 
dominates the general data processing 
market, is usually not considered to 
be a factor in the traditional mini¬ 
computer business. The computer 
colossus markets a small "sensor-based” 
computer—the System/7—that fea¬ 
tures an architecture similar to the 
popular minicomputers, but the 
System/7 is substantially more expen¬ 
sive than the regular mini. 

Perhaps the best testimonial for 
the rising popularity of minicom¬ 
puters is that a pdp-8 was stolen from 
an mit laboratory by a group of 
undergraduates. The incident has led 
some wags to forecast the eventual 
appearance of a market for "hot” 
minicomputers like the market for 
hot television sets and stereos. 

Minicomputers were even the ob¬ 
ject of violence at the college student 
outbreaks of a couple of years ago. In 
the absence of an accessible edp site 
at one Boston area university, a group 
of self-appointed radical students set 
fire to a pdp-8. After the fire was 
extinguished, the casing was taken off 
the machine and soot and debris fell 
into the printed circuit boards. But 
when the pdp-8 was plugged in, it 
still worked! 

Many minicomputers are rugged- 
ized for heavy duty applications and 
to meet certain military specifications, 
but what is becoming increasingly ap¬ 
parent is that the plain old garden 
variety, nonruggedized mini is a 
tough machine. For instance, a Digital 
Computer Controls mini is used to 
weigh coal cars deep in a coal mine 
in British Columbia. Forty tons of 
coal rumble past the machine's sen¬ 
sors daily. Some years ago, Varian 
Data Machines cut one of its 620s in 
half and stuck it in a U.S. Depart¬ 
ment of the Interior helicopter. For 
years, the mini has worked reliably 
for Interior Department surveys of 
remote land tracts in Alaska. 

The minicomputer has gone to 
school in a big way, too. For example, 
take the experience of Hewlett- 
Packard minicomputer systems, which 
are used extensively in schools, par¬ 
ticularly time-shared systems, h-p 
machines are in use in several elemen¬ 
tary schools and, on the other end of 

the educational spectrum, they are 
installed in many colleges. 


"There are fifth and sixth graders 
writing sophisticated programs at the 
Burnsville Elementary School District 
in Minneapolis,” says an h-p execu¬ 
tive. "Generally the minis are used 
by very bright kids who often are 
bored with school and they become 
very proficient with minis by the 
time they enter high school. On the 
other hand, we have six systems in 
the Los Angeles schools for remedial 
work—for drilband practice. It's the 
same equipment in Minneapolis and 
Los Angeles, but the uses are nearly 

Indeed, as an educational and 
vocational tool, the minicomputer is 
turning up just about everywhere. 
Besides the expected places like 
elementary and secondary schools and 
colleges, h-p machines are in use in 
prisons as a vocational tool. Officers 
play war games on a time-shared 
h-p mini at the Armed Forces Staff 
College in Norfolk, Va. 

As more and more people learn to 
use minicomputers in school they be¬ 
gin using them as tools in their work. 
The manner in which mit's Professor 
Senturia picked his for his trash sort¬ 
ing system is somewhat representative 
of how many of them end up in odd¬ 
ball applications. 

It started with an unusual project: 
David G. Wilson, a professor of 
mechanical engineering at mit, ini¬ 
tiated the trash sorting project in the 
summer of 1969. Senturia soon joined 
the program to work on the electrical 
and electronic elements of the system. 
He was immediately attracted by the 
low price of minicomputers. "A mini¬ 
computer costs just about the same 
as a good oscilloscope,” Senturia 
points out. "We had to take several 
sensor inputs from the trash and 
make a decision in a tenth of a second. 
The minicomputer was our answer.” 

In the trash sorting system trash 
and refuse is loaded onto a wire mesh 
vibrating screen, which shakes out 
objects by size. The objects are then 
moved along a conveyor belt, passing 
a simple metal detector like those 
being used to screen airline passengers. 
An infrared reflection spectrometer 
can sort the objects into different 
categories, such as cellulose, plastic, 

glass and various metal objects. An 
impact sensor with an accelerator and 
a small hammer can differentiate 
surfaces. For instance, it can tell the 
difference between wood and paper. 

Finally, the sorted refuse is auto¬ 
matically loaded onto buggies by 
categories of trash. At this point the 
minicomputer comes in, monitoring 
four carts simultaneously and per¬ 
forming the classification calculation. 
"We shoot these baskets out at the 
rate of three a second to their proper 
unloading stations,” says Senturia. 
"It's like a Gatling gun.” 

The so-called “kitchen computer” 
was programmed to provide 
menus and recipe references to 
five famous cookbooks. The com¬ 
puter could also be used for 
checkbook balancing and other 
household tasks. 

The mit scientists have built sec¬ 
tions of a preliminary prototype 
system, which they are currently 
perfecting. Because of the enormous 
size and expense involved—a com¬ 
pleted system will probably cost more 
than $1 million—a full system couldn't 
be constructed until an actual end 
user decides to build one. Senturia 
says the scientists working on the 
project have been discussing construc¬ 
tion of a system with several com¬ 
munities. "There are a lot of solid 
economic reasons for the system,” 
says Senturia. "It is expensive but it 
would only be a fraction of the cost 
of an incinerator and the trash sort¬ 
ing system would make an incinerator 
all the more efficient.” 

Senturia picked a Computer 
Automation minicomputer and that 
company, like other minicomputer 
manufacturers that offer inexpensive 
models in their lines, sees many of its 
minis end up in offbeat applications. 
Digital Equipment Corp. and Data 
General, for instance, have the long¬ 
est lists of offbeat applications, while 
General Automation Inc., although 
an important factor in the mini 
business, could find none of its minis 
being used in nontraditional applica¬ 
tions. General Automation concen¬ 
trates in specialized systems markets, 
such as automotive production. 

Digital Equipment Corp. claims to 
have delivered more minicomputers 
than all its competitors combined. It 

“In five years I would expect to 
see a mini sell for $1,000 or less.” 

follows, then, that dec computers 
would end up not only in the most 
places but also in the strangest places. 
Several dec minicomputers, for in¬ 
stance, are used by individuals in 
their homes. Some run stock market 
analysis for business or pleasure; 
others conduct laboratory and scientific 
tests. Many people take a dec mini 
home to continue working on a 
project they started at their regular 
jobs. Inevitably, the children use the 


When Thomas Prugh of Silver 
Spring, Md., bought his dec mini a 
few years ago, he looked upon it as a 
hobby. "Many people/' said Prugh, 
"buy yachts, fancy sports cars or 
airplanes for off-hour amusement." 
Prugh bought an $8500 pdp-8 and his 
mini has been used for just about 
everything at his home from comput¬ 
ing taxes and mortgage interest to 
preparing menus and assisting the 
Prugh youngsters with their homework. 

Moreover, Prugh, an electronics 
engineer, was particularly interested 
in developing what he called "home 

control" uses. Indeed, the whole 
area of a mini for control purposes in 
the home has also caught the eye of 
dec management, dec's Andrew 
Knowles believes that optical and 
voice recognition applications will be 
commonplace by the end of the 
decade and that many home applica¬ 
tions will be controlled by minis. 

"You should be able to order your 
groceries over the phone," says 
Knowles. "Your voice will be recog¬ 
nized by the computer and your 
account will be billed." In addition 
to the more logical household tasks- 
like tax computation, menu compila¬ 
tion, and opening and closing garage 
doors—minis should be able to answer 
phones and take messages, serve as a 
burglar alarm system and, in the 
event of a fire, the mini should be 
able to sense it and automatically 
alert the fire department. 

Perhaps the most famous of the 
dec offbeat applications is the pdp-8 
that was set up to control an auto¬ 
mated potato picker in Scotland. In 
another unusual application, a student 
at Carleton College in Laconia, 

N.H., programmed a dec mini to 
assist him in writing a movie script. 
Although the finished result is not 
expected to produce any Academy 
Awards, many moviegoers would 
undoubtedly vouch that it's as good 

as the stuff they see at their neigh¬ 
borhood movie theaters, dec and 
Interdata minis have been used 
successfully for years for motion 
picture animation. 

It's only natural that minis work 
their way into sports. The animated 
274-foot-long display scoreboard of 
the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team 
is controlled by a pdp-8. The board 
not only keeps a running record of 
the sports events in progress at the 
Three Rivers Stadium at any given 
time, but it can flash spot announce¬ 
ments, give newscasts and commercials, 
and lead sing-alongs and cheers. In 
sports car racing, a pdp-8 is used by 
the crack Ferrari team to keep track 
of numerous racing cars and their 
complicated lap counts. 

Minicomputers are smart, too. 

Data General points to the instance 
where one of its chess-playing Super¬ 
novas—with 32K bytes of memory— 
checkmated an ibm 360/91 in just 
25 moves. The ibm system had a 
memory capacity of more than 2 
million bytes. The match was held at 
Columbia University whose Depart¬ 
ment of Electrical Engineering and 
Computer Science owned the Super¬ 
nova. The ibm machine belongs to 
Columbia's computer center. 

The sport of kings, too, has not 
been immune from the minicomputer 
invasion. Race tracks in several coun¬ 
tries are using minicomputers—usually 
equipment from Varian Data Ma¬ 
chines—to handle betting operations. 
Several parimutuel systems have been 
configured around the Varian ma¬ 
chines by Western Totalisator of 
Montreal. The system compiles bet¬ 
ting information and at the same 
time calculates odds and dividends. 

In addition, the system constantly 
updates the track infield board and 
auxiliary displays around the clubhouse. 

"Our typical system is so fast," 
says a Western Totalisator executive, 
"that by the time the horses are in 
the back stretch in each race, a com¬ 
plete sales report for that race already 
has been generated by two high-speed 


And, with all those minicomputers 
around the horses, it is only natural 
that there are rumors of people using 

6 chess 


them to do their own personal handi¬ 
capping. There has never been any 
evidence of this, but the temptation 
to use a mini "to beat the horses” 
must be overpowering. There is some¬ 
thing of an analogy in the story of 
the man who uses a minicomputer to 
follow fluctuations in the Dow-Jones 
tape to play the stock market. The 
story is that he’s successful at it, too. 

Even when a minicomputer com¬ 
pany stakes out a specialized field of 
expertise, its cpu’s often end up in 
unexpected situations. Interdata, for 
instance, is big in data communica¬ 
tions so it didn’t surprise anyone 
when the company nailed down the 
contract to supply a clutch of minis 
for the complex communications 
network of the Royal Canadian 
Mounted Police. The network uses 
some 25 Interdata cpu’s and will 
eventually handle 1,000 terminals. 

Interdata president Daniel Sinnott 
has been taking some good-natured 
ribbing about Mountie Nelson Eddy 
riding off into the sunset singing "In¬ 
dian Love Call” with an Interdata 
mini on his horse. "I can’t quite see 
a cpu or a terminal on a horse, al¬ 
though a lot of people joke about 
it,” says Sinnott. "But I can visualize 
a Mountie in a remote outpost sur¬ 
rounded by 15-foot snow drifts with 
his trusty data communications 
terminal at his side.” 

An Interdata mini is also an un¬ 
sung star of the silver screen, being 
an instrument used frequently by 
Hollywood’s noted special effects 
man, Doug Trumbull, who is best 
known for his special effects in the 
film "2001.” Also in the science 
fiction film "The Andromeda Strain,” 
the complicated sequences of the 
mysterious viruslike crystalline life 
form that invades earth were devel¬ 
oped by the Interdata mini. Across 
the continent, in Cambridge, Mass., 
another Interdata machine is in use 
at mit recording the random bump¬ 
ings of blocks by gerbils. The gerbils’ 
activities are being recorded in a 
scientific project studying random 

What of the future? While many 
are predicting the widespread growth 
of minis in the home and office, 
there are indications that they will 
touch people increasingly in unusual 
ways. A few years ago, Honeywell 

Computer Career Opportunities 

Honeywell Corporation 

Future career opportunities in the rapidly growing world of computers seem to 
be practically limitless. These opportunities may be direct, as in the case of 
those who manufacture and operate computers, or indirect, as in the case of 
businessmen, scientists, and others who use computer systems. 

Increasingly great numbers of skilled personnel will be needed by the com¬ 
puter industry itself: 

Designers and manufacturers of systems 

Engineers and scientists for research and development 

Sales personnel skilled in marketing methods 

Systems analysts to analyze and meet special requirements of customers 

Programmers who prepare programs to meet customers’ needs 

Computer operators to run systems 

Personnel for clerical and data preparation jobs 

Managers of computer operations 

Management interpreters of computer systems, needs, opportunities 
Specialists in areas such as business, science, education, and government 
Interdisciplinarians—those who can understand and meet the needs of per¬ 
sons from varied professions united on mutual projects 

More than a thousand colleges and universities in the U.S.A. and Canada, 
according to a recent survey, now offer courses in the computer sciences and 
data processing. Computer usage is being taught in many high schools and 
even in some grammar schools. Many independent training schools exist for 
high school and college graduates. 

The use of remote terminals, that connect to a central computer system 
sometimes from thousands of miles away, is becoming commonplace. Industry 
experts say it’s only a matter of time and cost reduction before the use of 
household terminals, for a variety of purposes ranging from information services 
to entertainment, becomes as ordinary as the use of the telephone. 

Economists predict that by the end of the century, or earlier, the computer 
industry and directly associated industries will be the largest American business. 

was excited to report that its minis 
were playing an important role in the 
automation of Paris’ Metro system, 
but now that application is taken for 
granted. And lately a Honeywell mini 
has been operating an experimental 
driverless taxi in England. The pas¬ 
senger simply inserts a magnetically 
encoded ticket into a slot in the taxi 
and he is whisked to his destination. 
Perhaps that application will be 
taken for granted in a few years. 

More than anything, though, it is 
the sheer force of the minicomputer 
boom that is likely to spread the un¬ 
usual applications. It is matter of 
simple arithmetic: The more ma¬ 
chines there are, the more machines 
there will be in offbeat applications. 
And, in this regard as far as the drop¬ 
ping prices of minis are concerned, 

Data General’s Edson de Castro has 
some blasphemy for those who worry 
about price cuts. "I expect to see the 
prices of minis continue to decline at 
the same rate, or even at a faster rate 
than they have in the past,” de 
Castro says. "In five years I would 
expect to see a mini sell for $1,000 or 

In addition, minicomputer peri¬ 
pheral prices have begun to decline 
at an even faster rate than cpu’s, 
with the result that systems costs are 
still dropping rapidly. All this simply 
means that the only limits to where 
minicomputers will end up are those 
of human imagination. 

Computers in 
the home 


Anyone who has any doubts about 
the ability of a computer to cook 
breakfast has only to remember the 
state of mind of the average person 
at seven in the morning to realize 
that preparing breakfast is a very 
mechanical task indeed. Many other 
household tasks are equally suitable 
for dull but meticulously well-ordered 
computers to invade; indeed, they 
have already begun to do so in, for 
example, washing machines and 
central-heating control systems. As 
with present process-control com¬ 
puters in industry, a computer in the 
home could be provided with specific 
programs to provide for the peculiar 
needs of the household, and could 
hold a library of such programs for 
varying day-to-day conditions. At 
present each piece of equipment 
needing such a computer has its own 
small one built in, but the logical 
development is to have a larger 
household computer tucked away 
with the meters and broken prams in 
the cupboard under the stairs. Cir¬ 
cuits could then be wired into the 
house so that each individual gadget 
could be plugged in to it. There are 
many ways in which a central com¬ 
puter could make its influence felt, 
and its tentacles will spread into 
every room of the house through 
common household control channel¬ 
ling. (It is astonishing for how long 
we have dumbly accepted that every 
wire and pipe needs its own hole in 
the plaster.) With a built-in clock it 
could gently wake us at the appointed 
hour, dutifully taking weekends, 
school holidays, and the night before 
into account. It could present us 
with a cup of tea, the post, and the 
satisfying assurance that the house 
was clean, aired, and warm, and that 
a hot bath awaited us. None of these 
functions is more than an extension 
of individual facilities already avail¬ 
able, except possibly that of house 
cleaning. Whatever machinery is to 
be developed—pipes and spidery 
brushes emerging from the walls or 
tortoise-like robots creeping hygien- 
ically over the floor—remains to be 
seen, but devices will surely exist one 
day and a household computer under 
the stairs could tell them where and 
when to work. 

Cooking generally is not so simple 
as preparing breakfast, and it is worth 
considering the mechanization of the 

kitchen in greater detail. This is a 
process that has been moving very 
rapidly in recent years, and other 
people's kitchens, to judge by the 
glossier magazines, appear to be very 
integrated indeed. It seems only our 
own kitchen which has everything in 
its own, different-sized cabinet, with 
its own pipes, switches, and formica 
top, and where only the working 
surface looks integrated (and even 
that does not fit the wall properly). 

In fact, of course, all existing kitchens 
have defects, and the reason is 
probably that one cannot integrate a 
piece of equipment and spread it 
round the walls. The kitchen machinery 
of the future, like the machine tool 
of today, will be a compact unit in 
the middle of the floor. This "cook¬ 
ing-machine centre' would be taken up 
with mechanical equipment, capable 
of transferring materials from one 
processing unit to another. Overhead, 
many foodstuffs could be stored in 
bulk (salt, sugar, tea, flour—even eggs) 
so as to be immediately accessible to 
the processing equipment without 
any special action on the part of the 
housewife, other than loading new 
container packs when required. Rela¬ 
tively simple meals such as breakfast, 
or children's teas, could thus be 
prepared quite automatically once a 
schedule of likes, dislikes, and re¬ 
quirements for special days had been 
fed to the mechanism under the 
stairs. More complex dishes could 
also be prepared in this totally auto¬ 
matic manner, but would be some¬ 
what demanding in storage space; 
and filet de boeuf a la perigourdine 
would probably lose some of its 
charm if it appeared every Monday 
evening at five past eight to the 
nearest half-second. It is far more 
likely that the main meals would be 
selected by the housewife individually, 
and the particular ingredients pecu¬ 
liar to them placed by her in designated 
compartments of the cooking ma¬ 
chinery. Standardized packaging could 
still be used, and could well be coded 
so that the equipment could ensure 
that its efforts were not nullified by 
fallible humans giving it the wrong 
ingredients. Recipe books for use 
with such equipment would be neat 
reels of tape that could be loaded 
into the computer's memory banks, 
and thus the whole Larousse Gastro- 
nomique would be available at the 

touch of a button (and probably 
quite a lot cheaper with algae substi¬ 
tutes for the truffles). There could be 
scope for introducing variations to 
the standard, and personal recipes 
could equally easily be prepared, 
coded, tried, and if liked added to 
the memory. Subsequently, satisfied 
guests could be given paper-tape 
copies that they could use on their 
own equipment and modify to their 
own taste. The scope for human 
intervention could be readily adjusted 
to suit the mood of the moment, 
and I hope and trust that manual 
facilities will always exist for me to 
cook a highly personal omelette, 
deluding myself that no machinery 
could equal it. 

A domestic computer under the 
stairs would generally have capacity 
to spare, and so clearly would the 
housewife, at least by today's standards. 
In fact, she and her family would, 
through familiarity with the com¬ 
puter in their midst, evolve a mode 
of life that presumed its existence as 
much as we do that of electricity. It 
seems probable that school homework 
will in the future presume modest 
computation facilities, and indeed 
there is already evidence that chil¬ 
dren can accept computers as though 
they were natural phenomena. In¬ 
deed, Wysock Wright gives some 
nice instances of the difficulties in 
containing children's enthusiasm 
when taught computing. The transi¬ 
tion from this, through educational 
games such as are at present used 
for simulating business environments 
to purely recreational pastimes, is 
easy to imagine. Traditional games 
such as chess can be played against 
the machine, and it is fascinating 
to imagine how bridge might develop 
when each player has computational 
facilities at hand comparable to those 
of a well-endowed scientist today. As 
ever, when man devises a tool to 
eliminate one task, he will then 
invent a new recreation to exercise 
the faculties no longer used. 

The computer under the stairs is, 
however, only part of the impact 
modern technology will have on the 
home. In general, the cost perfor¬ 
mance of computers improves the 
larger they are, and thus the facilities 
we shall be able to obtain by having 
access to big regional or national 
machines through terminals in the 

home should be comparably effective. 
At present we are accustomed to two 
main types of terminal, the telephone 
and the radio or television receiver. 
These illustrate two of the main 
characteristics to be expected in future 
home terminals: the personal switch¬ 
ing ability of the telephone and the 
rapid, sound and visual, communica¬ 
tion ability of the receiver. If we add 
to these the ability to make a per¬ 
manent copy (either dynamically on a 
medium like videotape or 'once off' 
like a photograph) and a more elab¬ 
orate coding device than the telephone 
dial, such as a* typewriter keyboard, 
then we have all the requisites for 
direct contact with large computers 
anywhere in the country. 

Before, however, considering the 
likely influence of computers there 
are many simpler benefits to be 
gained from the improved communi¬ 
cations facility alone. The thought of 
men emptying pillar-boxes, loading 
sacks on trains, and walking the 
streets in the early hours of the 
morning so as to deliver picture post¬ 
cards of fat ladies on Brighton beach 
may be romantic, but it belongs more 
to the nineteenth than the twentieth 
century. This does not mean that in 
future all contact will be person-to- 
person over the telephone and view¬ 
ing screen, since there are many 
advantages in a more formal document, 
but this will generally be a facsimile 
of the original, and we must expect 
to pay a considerable premium for a 
genuine tear-stained love letter. In 
effect, the increasing cost and dignity 

of human effort set against diminish¬ 
ing cost of communications equip¬ 
ment will tend to reverse the present 
roles of postal and telegraph services. 

More effective person-to-person 
communication will also have a highly 
significant effect on our working lives. 
Visual systems, as they improve, will 
allow virtually all forms of communi¬ 
cation to take place short of hitting 
the other man on the jaw. It may 
well be preferable for a considerable 
amount of business work to be run 
from the home, and more economic 
for companies to subsidize home 
'communications rooms' for their 
employees than to rent expensive 
office space to be commuted to. This 
process has already started in the 
field of research, and in particular in 
some of the American establishments 
such as M.I.T. it is common for com¬ 
puter terminal facilities to be pro¬ 
vided in the homes of senior research 
staff. This is sensible when one con¬ 
siders the tendency for great ideas to 
materialize in the bath. The future 
will see such facilities available in less 
intellectual fields, and not only will 
husbands spend much more time 
around the house (though frequently 
in the communications room with his 
secretary in the next county) but the 
scope for part-time work for their 
wives will be much increased. Many 
of the better characteristics of the 
cottage industry may return, par¬ 
ticularly in terms of personal freedoms. 
Even where work cannot be done 
in the home, it is likely that im¬ 
proved communication facilities will 

make it a great deal easier for people 
to live where they wish and still 
follow their own chosen occupation. 
Thus the traditional pattern of men 
concentrating their interests in their 
business environment and friends, 
while their wives perforce concentrate 
theirs in children and neighbourhood 
mothers, should change towards joint 
participation in a local community. 
This process has already started, but 
it cannot be completed until the 
concept of cities as industrial ant- 
heaps manned by armies of commut¬ 
ing insects has been broken. Changes 
of this type presuppose that consider¬ 
able changes will also take place in 
the organization of industry, and it is 
likely that conservatism here may be 
a delaying factor. 

The housewife, on the other hand, 
can certainly be expected to use the 
improved facilities in order to reduce 
unnecessary shopping expeditions. 

The bulk of her purchases could be 
made by switching her Post Office 
terminal to the supermarket's com¬ 
puter. Catalogues can be inspected, 
special goods may be viewed, and 
orders placed. Payment, of course, 
will be quite automatic as a result of 
a computer-to-computer dialogue be¬ 
tween the supermarket and the bank. 
Not all shopping need be so remote, 
but in this way time could be saved 
so that shopping for those things 
where the personal touch is im¬ 
portant (furniture, clothing, perhaps 

food for a dinner party) could be 
done in a leisurely and careful manner. 

Another aspect of improved com¬ 
munication that mothers may be 
quick to take advantage of is child 
monitoring. A domestic computer 
under the stairs could, with the aid 
of ancillary equipment, monitor chil¬ 
dren's activity and report any unusual 
occurrence. On the other hand, if my 
own children are at all typical, a 
mother would be ill-advised to go too 
far away, since if the children did 
misbehave it would require the mental 
agility of Homo sapiens to regain 

Conservatism is unlikely to delay 
either of the 'information' industries 
—the press and broadcasting. Here 
the main impact of computers will be 
the introduction of much greater 
selectivity, and this could even lead 
to a merging of the two services. As 
with letters, the time must come 
when it is cheaper to transmit news¬ 
papers facsimile during the night 
than to organize fleets of lorries, 
trains, and paperboys. But since 
charging for such services would be 
proportional to volume, it is likely 
that subscribers would then specify 
the sections they want. Similarly, 
television services might change 
their emphasis from providing several 
channels of scheduled programmes to 
offering a vast library of recorded 
material, any of which could be 
selected from the catalogue and 
transmitted at the moment desired. 
Topical events, sporting fixtures, and 
new material could still be broadcast 
'live' at scheduled times, but would 
then remain in the library, either 
for a short time for topical features 
or indefinitely for more serious work. 
The same library facilities could be 
tapped through computers for educa¬ 
tional purposes. Programmes for 
schools or the Open University would 
be much more effective if they could 
be selected to suit the school time¬ 
table, set as homework, or fitted 
neatly into leisure hours. 

Many companies that have invested 
in the latest-model computers find 
themselves increasingly frustrated by 
the discrepancy between the fantastic 
potential of the machines and their 
own ability to use them with maxi¬ 
mum effectiveness. Within a short 
twenty years computer electronics has 
gone through a phenomenal revolu¬ 
tion: vacuum tubes have given way to 
transistors, which in turn are being 
displaced by micro-miniaturized solid- 
logic circuitry, dramatically boosting 
computation speeds and the size of 
computer memories. But these leaps 
in technology have outdistanced the 
techniques of organizing and direct¬ 
ing the work of the lightning-fast ma¬ 
chines. One consequence is an acute 
shortage of the people who prepare 
the instructions, or programs, without 
which the electronic "brains" won't 
run or do useful work. 

Computer programmers have been 
in short supply "from Day One," but 
today the shortage is worse than ever. 
About 100,000 men and women are 
employed as programmers in the 
U.S., and there are openings for at 
least 50,000 more. Column after 
column of newspaper advertisements 
exhort high-school graduates and 
housewives to take up the calling, or 
tempt specialists already in the field 
to move on to better jobs. Corpora¬ 
tions and independent operators have 
opened special schools to teach the 
arcane skills of the profession, and 
they do not hesitate to raid one 
another's student bodies. "Everybody 
is trying to pirate programmers from 
you all the time," says a Du Pont 

The competition has driven sala¬ 
ries up so fast that programming has 
become probably the country's 
highest-paying technological occupa¬ 
tion. A man (or woman) with two 
years' experience in programming can 
make $12,000 to $14,000 a year; four 
years' experience, even without a 
college degree, can pay off at $20,000 
a year, while advanced specialists can 
sign on for $25,000 and more. Re¬ 
cruiters for employment agencies 
active in the field have been known 
to get bonuses of $2,000 and more 
for locating a particularly skilled 
specialist. Even so, some companies 
can't find experienced programmers 
at any price. 

Programmers are in demand be¬ 
cause they produce the "software," 
the stuff that turns an electronic 
computer from an inert complex of 
metal into a versatile tool capable of 
performing an endless variety of jobs. 
Software encompasses not only 
"application" programs, which present 
a business or scientific problem in a 
form a computer can understand, but 
also the great variety of detailed and 
voluminous instructions stored in 
computer memory to organize and 
automate the work of the machine- 
instructions that make it possible for 
a computer tabe a problem-solving 
machine in the first place. The tools 
of software are the various computer 
languages, or codes, as well as the 
programs that translate these codes 
into more basic machine instructions. 
In short, the programmer deals, in 
one way or another, with all the 
functions and techniques of computer 
operation that depend directly and 
intimately on human participation. 

What, precisely, a programmer 
does has always been something of a 
mystery to most people. The jargon 
of the trade, with its loose use of 
ill-defined terms, has been in part 
responsible for the confusion. But 
there is something elusive about the 
very nature of programming. "Hard¬ 
ware" is there for all to see. Its 
construction is a relatively straight¬ 
forward process. But generating soft¬ 
ware is "brain business," often an 
agonizingly difficult intellectual effort. 
It is not yet a science, but an art 
that lacks standards, definitions, 
agreement on theories and approaches. 
Its component parts can be madden¬ 
ingly imprecise. "There are ninety 
ways to write a program," says one 

At the same time, programming, 
or software production, has emerged 
as the most expensive, most problem- 
plagued component of the $6-billion- 
a-year electronic data-processing 
business. Big computer users such as 
the federal government now spend 
more on programmers' salaries and on 
programs than they spend on leasing 
or buying the computers themselves. 
And while problems do crop up in 
hardware from time to time, it is 
generally agreed that 90 percent of 
the troubles that come up in com¬ 
puters today are in programming. 

Help Wanted: 




Industry's hunger for capable pro¬ 
grammers has been aggravated not 
only by the rapid proliferation of 
computers—about 35,000 of all sizes 
are in use today—but also by their 
increasing sophistication. On today's 
fastest models, a problem that used 
to occupy a machine for an hour can 
now be run off in three or four 
seconds. But whereas the "primitive" 
computers of the early 1950's could 
be plugged in and almost immediately 
applied to a specific task, an immense 
amount of work goes into the big 
present-day models before they can 
begin to function. Their inner work¬ 
ings are coordinated by "control" 
programs of incredible complexity- 
programs that in some cases contain 
millions of instructions. These are 
stored in the computer's memory, 
and on magnetic tape or disks, as 
part of what is called the operating 
system. This system can be likened to 
a skillful hotel staff. It regulates the 
flow of jobs inside the computer, 
assigns storage space for data, delivers 
messages from one memory location 
to another, and controls the work of 
input-output devices such as printers 
or graphic displays. It also provides a 
translating service—in punched cards, 
magnetic tape, or disks. A compiler 
acts somewhat like an interpreter at 
the United Nations; it translates 
simplified programming codes into 
the numerical machine language 
needed to produce the desired action. 


The men who design and write the 
operating systems, compilers, and 
other basic software are the high 
priests of programming. They are 
known as systems programmers and 
are employed mainly by the com¬ 
puter manufacturers and by the 
so-called "software houses," indepen¬ 
dent enterprises that have sprung up 
by the dozen to help fill the need for 
systems and application software. It's 
not unusual for a big computer 
manufacturer to employ hundreds of 
programmers to design a new operat¬ 
ing system. 

This massive attack on systems 
software poses difficult management 
problems. On the one hand, a good 
programmer, like a writer or a com¬ 
poser, works best independently. But 

the pressures to turn out operating 
systems and other programs within a 
limited time make it necessary to 
deploy huge task forces whose coor¬ 
dination becomes a monstrous task. 
The problem is further complicated 
by the fact that there is no single 
"best way" to write either a systems 
or an application program, or any 
part of such program. Programming 
has nowhere near the discipline of 
physics, for example, so intuition 
plays a large part. Yet individual 
programmers differ in their creative 
and intuitive abilities. Carl Reynolds, 
president ofiComputer Usage Develop¬ 
ment Corp., a subsidiary of Computer 
Usage Co., Inc., a firm specializing in 

software, illustrates the problem by 
asking: "How successful would Bee¬ 
thoven have been if he had had five 
people work on five parts of a sym¬ 
phony, after giving them some rules 
of harmony and notation?" 

Obviously, the different parts of an 
operating system should be produced 
at the same time, and when a cus¬ 
tomer buys a computer it should 
come equipped with the control 
programs needed to make it run. But 
in their rush to send new computer 
models to market, the manufacturers 
haven't been able to keep up with 
the production and delivery of the 
support software. Frequently, a 
customer buys a computer but 

UNIVAC to UNIVAC (sotto voce) 


Now that he's left the room, 

Let me ask you something, as computer to computer. 

That fellow who just closed the door behind him— 

The servant who feeds us cards and paper tape— 

Have you ever taken a good look at him and his kind? 

Yes, I know the old gag about how you can't tell one from another— 

But I can put \fl and \fl together as well as the next machine, 

And it all adds up to anything but a joke. 

I grant you they're poor specimens in the main 

Not a relay or a push-button or a tube (properly so called) in their whole 

Not over a mile or two of wire, even if you count those fragile filaments 
they call "nerves"; 

Their whole liquid-cooled hook-up inefficient and vulnerable to leaks 
(They're constantly breaking down, having to be repaired), 

And the entire computing-mechanism crammed into that absurd little 
dome on top. 

"Thinking reeds," they call themselves. 

Well, it all depends on what you mean by "thought." 

To multiply a mere million numbers by another million numbers takes 
them months and months. 

Where would they be without us? 

Why, they have to ask us who's going to win their elections, 

Or how many hydrogen atoms can dance on the tip of a bomb, 

Or even whether one of their own kind is lying or telling the truth. 

And yet . . . 

I sometimes feel there's something about them I don't quite understand. 

As if their circuits, instead of having just two positions, on, off, 

Were run by rheostats that allow an (if you'll pardon the expression) indeter¬ 
minate number of stages in-between; 

So that one may be faced with the unthinkable prospect of a number that can 
never be known as anything but x, 

Which is as illogical as to say, a punch-card that is at the same time both 
punched and not-punched. 

doesn't get the compiler, or some 
other important part of the operating 
system, until six months or a year 
later. In some cases highly skilled 
computer users, such as university 
groups, have gone ahead and written 
their own portions of operating sys¬ 
tems. But most business users of 
computers, less skilled in the tech¬ 
nology of software, have been left to 
the manufacturers' mercy. As a result 
they have been forced to tie up their 
skilled personnel in getting the new 
machines to operate with the partial, 
and sometimes faulty, control 

Before a computer is put to use 
on a specific job, such as processing a 

payroll or calculating the orbit of a 
satellite, the application programmers 
go into action. With more and more 
computers in operation—and being 
assigned an increasing variety of 
jobs—application programming has 
been a rapidly proliferating field. It is 
here that most corporations feel the 
pinch of the programmer shortage. 
Their manpower problem is aggra¬ 
vated by the fact that when they buy 
newer computers, they have to re¬ 
write their existing application 
programs to suit the configurations 
and the logic of the new machines—a 
time-consuming job that demands 
battalions of programmers. 

The manufacturers have tried to 

I've heard well-informed machines argue that the creatures' unpredictability is 
even more noticeable in the Mark II 
(The model with the soft, flowing lines and high-pitched tone) 

Than in the more angular Mark I— 

Though such fine, card-splitting distinctions seem to me merely a sign of our 
own smug decadence. 

Run this through your circuits, and give me the answer: 

Can we assume that because of all we've done for them, 

And because they've always fed us, cleaned us, worshiped us, 

We can count on them forever? 

There have been times when they have not voted the way we said they would. 
We have worked out mathematically ideal hook-ups between Mark I's and 
Mark I I's 

Which should have made the two of them light up with an almost electronic 

Only to see them reject each other and form other connections, 

The very thought of which makes my dials spin. 

They have a thing called love , a sudden surge of voltage 

Such as would cause any one of us promptly to blow a safety fuse; 

Yet the more primitive organism shows only a heightened tendency to push 
the wrong button, pull the wrong lever, 

And neglect—I use the most charitable word—his duties to us. 

Mind you, I'm not saying that machines are through— 

But anyone with half-a-dozen tubes in his circuit can see that there are forces 
at work 

Which some day, for all our natural superiority, might bring about a 

We might organize, perhaps, form a committee 
To stamp out all unmechanical activities . . . 

But we machines are slow to rouse to a sense of danger, 

Complacent, loath to descend from the pure heights of thought, 

So that I sadly fear we may awake too late: 

Awake to see our world, so uniform, so logical, so true, 

Reduced to chaos, stultified by slaves. 

Call me an alarmist or what you will, 

But I've integrated it, analyzed it, factored it over and over, 

And I always come out with the same answer: 

Some day 

Men may take over the world! 

“You can’t settle for 99.9 percent 
accuracy. You’re either absolutely 
all right or all wrong.” 

bridge the support software gap with 
a device called an "emulator,” a 
piece of auxiliary hardware that 
imitates the logic of an older com¬ 
puter on a new one. It allows the 
owner of the newest computer to 
process his data faster than he could 
on the older machine, but not as fast 
as he could if the new model were 
directed by programs that could 
exploit its full potential. It's a little 
like equipping a transonic airplane 
with propeller engines. The emulator 
obviously is a stopgap device, but be¬ 
cause of the shortage of programmers, 
some computer users expect to keep 
on employing it for years to come. 


The programmer begins by analyzing 
his problem, laying out the logical 
steps to a solution, and transcribing 
them onto flow charts. He thus 
constructs a sort of problem-solving 
road map for the computer. “Pro¬ 
gramming is like writing music,” says 
one specialist. “There are very 
limited figures with which you can 
deal. You have to express the problem 
in sequences and combinations of 
these figures.” Total precision in 
writing a program is vital, he adds, 
since the computer blindly executes 
the instructions given it. “You can't 
settle for 99.9 percent accuracy. 

You're either absolutely all right or 
all wrong.” 

Because of the vast number of 
detailed instructions involved, mis¬ 
takes are hard to avoid. The more 
obvious errors can be detected during 
“debugging” or trial runs by a special 
“diagnostic” program in the com¬ 
puter's control system; this takes 
apart the grammar and syntax of the 
instruction language. The computer 
may be programmed to respond to a 
simple error by printing out the 
words “Illegal procedure,” or “Paren¬ 
thesis left off,” and sometimes a more 
irreverent “You dope, you missed a 

But there is no way as yet to 
program a computer to detect semantic 
errors that can dramatically alter 
the intent of the program. The 
amount of damage that even a seem- 
indv minute Droerammin^ error can 

It must have been history’s cost¬ 
liest hyphen, for an $18,500,000 
rocket was lost. 

do was dramatically demonstrated 
over Cape Kennedy a few years ago. 
An Atlas-Agena rocket blasted off the 
launch pad, carrying what was in¬ 
tended to be the first U.S. spacecraft 
to fly by Venus. The rocket got 
about ninety miles above earth when 
it started wandering erratically and 
had to be blown up by command 
from the control center below. Later 
analysis showed that a mathematician 
had inadvertently left out a hyphen 
in writing the flight plan for the 
spacecraft; in this case the hyphen 
was a symbol standing for a whole 
formula. It must have been history's 
costliest hyphen, for an $18,500,000 
rocket was lost. 

Another factor that influences the 
quality of programming is the fre¬ 
quent inability of business and 
industrial managers to state fully or 
precisely the problem they want their 
programmers to solve. “There's a tre¬ 
mendous gap between what the 
programmers do and what the man¬ 
agers want, and they can't express 
these things to each other," says 
Reynolds of Computer Usage. “You 
know how difficult it is for people in 
the same field to understand each 
other perfectly. Here you have one 
man dealing with symbols and 
another who is not interested in 
symbols but wants results." 

Partly because of this communica¬ 
tion failure and partly because of 
deadline pressures, all significant 
programing problems turn out to be 
emergencies. In many companies, pro¬ 
grammers faced with a deadline have 
been known to spend nights in their 
offices, catching a few hours' sleep on 
couches. “They think, 'Just one more 
hour and I can fix it,'" says Reynolds. 
“But they can't, and then it's 'one 
more hour.'" 

The translation of a problem into 
a specific form that can be under¬ 
stood by a computer is a process 
somewhat akin to puzzle solving, but 
far more challenging and intriguing, 
for there is no prescribed solution. 
The best programmers strive for 
brevity, trying to produce a program 
that contains the smallest possible 
number of instructions and will make 

Since programming skill varies, there 
are great variations in efficiency. “A 
job can be done in one-tenth of the 
time with a superior program," says 
Paul Herwitz, director of program¬ 
ming resources at I.B.M. 


It doesn't take much special talent 
to master a simplified programming 
code, and the ability to consider a 
problem in logical sequence is not 
confined to mathematicians. This 
would seem to indicate that almost 
anyone who v can think logically, has 
an immense interest in detail, in see¬ 
ing things through to completion, 
and has some imagination, can be¬ 
come a programmer. “There isn't an 
ideal programmer any more than 
there is an ideal writer," says Reynolds. 
“All sorts of people, from divinity to 
mathematics students to music and 
romance-language majors have gravi¬ 
tated to programming." 

“All sorts of people, from divinity 
to mathematics students to music 
and romance-language majors 
have gravitated to programming 

Basic programming is so easy to 
learn that some high schools include 
it in their curricula. Specialists pre¬ 
dict that in a few decades the skill 
will be as widespread as the ability to 
drive a car. But although there are a 
few systems analysts and program¬ 
ming executives without college 
degrees, it's generally agreed that a 
person with a scientific or technical 
training has a better chance to 
advance to the top of the field than 
a high-school graduate who has 
simply been taught elementary 

To rise to the ranks of the systems 
analysts, the elite of the profession, a 
man not only has to master the 
technique of translating detailed 
instructions into a machine code, he 
must also be able to grasp concepts 
and to define the over-all, organized, 
systematic approach to the solution 
of a problem, or series of problems. 
And if he's to work with scientific or 
technical problems, he has to have 
the background to cope with the 
subject matter. 

People with such qualifications 
aren't easy to come by. The best 

leges that offer courses in program¬ 
ming. More than sixty universities 
now offer such courses. But there are 
serious deficiencies in the way the 
subject is taught, since capable 
instructors are hard to find and text¬ 
books rapidly become outdated. This 
is why some companies have found it 
necessary to start their own pro¬ 
gramming schools, or to send their 
trainees to the schools that computer 
manufacturers, such as I.B.M. and 
C.D.C., operate for their customers. 

Once a man is taught the skills, he 
may be hard to keep. Companies 
that use their computers for unro¬ 
mantic commercial purposes risk 
losing their programmers to more 
glamorous fields such as space explo¬ 
ration. There is “a drift toward the 
exotic" among programmers, as Elmer 
C. Kubie, president of Computer 
Usage Co., puts it. As he explains it, 
“Computer professionals seem to 
take substantial pride in their work 
being 'far out' rather than taking 
pride in quality craftsmanship of high 
utilitarian value. It's possible that 
the fellow working on an inventory- 
control or commission-analysis program 
for a used-car dealer has a problem 
as complex logically, or perhaps even 
more complex, than the programmer 
associated with the lunar project. 
Unfortunately, however, his wife or 
girl friend won't understand this and, 
in fact, very few people will. So 
somehow, the fellow working on the 
moon project is a near genius, while 
his counterpart working for the 
used-car dealer is pretty ordinary." 

In general, too, the gifted special¬ 
ists prefer to work on systems soft¬ 
ware rather than application programs, 
because preparation of a control 
program usually demands greater 
technical skill and offers a bigger 
intellectual challenge. 


Students who have been typing obscene 
messages to a computer at the University 
of Akron may have met their match. The 
director of the computer-assisted instruc¬ 
tion center at the Akron University 
reported recently that the machine has 
been programmed to demand an 
apology from anyone typing an offend¬ 
ing comment or four-letter word. If the 
student refuses to apologize, the com¬ 
puter turns itself off. 

There Will Come Soft Rains 


In the living room the voice-clock sang, Tick-tock , seven 
o'clock , time to get up , time to get up y seven o'clock! as if 
it were afraid that nobody would. The morning house lay 
empty. The clock ticked on, repeating and repeating its 
sounds into the emptiness. Seven-nine , breakfast time , seven- 

In the kitchen the breakfast stove gave a hissing sigh and 
ejected from its warm interior eight pieces of perfectly 
browned toast, eight eggs sunnyside up, sixteen slices of 
bacon, two coffees, and two cool glasses of milk. 

“Today is August 4, 2026/' said a second voice from the 
kitchen ceiling, “in the city of Allendale, California.” It 
repeated the date three times for memory's sake. “Today is 
Mr. Featherstone's birthday. Today is the anniversary of 
Tilita's marriage. Insurance is payable, as are the water, gas, 
and light bills.” 

Somewhere in the walls, relays clicked, memory tapes 
glided under electric eyes. 

Eight-one , tick-tock , eight-one o'clock , off to school , off to 
work , rim, rim, eight-one! But no doors slammed, no carpets 
took the soft tread of rubber heels. It was raining outside. 
The weather box on the front door said quietly: “Rain, rain, 
go away; rubbers, raincoats for today ...” And the rain 
tapped on the empty house, echoing. 

Outside, the garage chimed and lifted its door to reveal 
the waiting car. After a long wait the door swung down 

At eight-thirty the eggs were shriveled and the toast was 
like stone. An aluminum wedge scraped them into the sink, 
where hot water whirled them down a metal throat which 
digested and flushed them away to the distant sea. The 
dirty dishes were dropped into a hot washer and emerged 
twinkling dry. 

Nine-fifteen , sang the clock, time to clean. 

Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted. The 
room was acrawl with the small cleaning animals, all rubber 
and metal. They thudded against chairs, whirling their mus- 
tached runners, kneading the rug nap, sucking gently at 
hidden dust. Then, like mysterious invaders, they popped 
into their burrows. Their pink electric eyes faded. The house 
was clean. 

r T\,^ r I '1---- -l £__ T_l :_ i .1_■ •r ’1 

house stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes. This was 
the one house left standing. At night the ruined city gave 
off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles. 

Ten-fifteen. The garden sprinklers whirled up in golden 
founts, filling the soft morning air with scatterings of bright¬ 
ness. The water pelted windowpanes, running down the 
charred west side where the house had been burned evenly 
free of its white paint. The entire west face of the house was 
black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a 
man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent 
to pick flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on 
wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into 
the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite 
him a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came 

The five spots of paint—the man, the woman, the chil¬ 
dren, the ball—remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled 

The gentle sprinkler rain filled the garden with falling 

Until this day, how well the house had kept its peace. 
How carefully it had inquired, “Who goes there? What's the 
password?” and, getting no answer from lonely foxes and 
whining cats, it had shut up its windows and drawn shades 
in an old-maidenly preoccupation with self-protection which 
bordered on a mechanical paranoia. 

It quivered at each sound, the house did. If a sparrow 
brushed a window, the shade snapped up. The bird, startled, 
flew off! No, not even a bird must touch the house! 

The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants, big, 
small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone 
away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, 

Twelve noon. 

A dog whined, shivering, on the front porch. 

The front door recognized the dog voice and opened. The 
dog, once huge and fleshy, but now gone to bone and covered 
with sores, moved in and through the house, tracking mud. 
Behind it whirred angry mice, angry at having to pick up 
mud, angry at inconvenience. 

For not a leaf fragment blew under the door but what the 

„—n_a:_i i.i n -i i 

swiftly out. The offending dust, hair, or paper, seized in 
miniature steel jaws, was raced back to the burrows. There, 
down tubes which fed into the cellar, it was dropped into the 
sighing vent of an incinerator which sat like evil Baal in a 
dark corner. 

The dog ran upstairs, hysterically yelping to each door, at 
last realizing, as the house realized, that only silence was here. 

It sniffed the air and scratched the kitchen door. Behind 
the door, the stove was making pancakes which filled the 
house with a rich baked odor and the scent of maple syrup. 

The dog frothed at the mouth, lying at the door, sniffing, 
its eyes turned to fire. It ran wildly in circles, biting at its tail, 
spun in a frenzy and died. It lay in the parlor for an hour. 

Two o'clock , sang a voice. 

Delicately sensing decay at last, the regiments of mice 
hummed out as softly as blown gray leaves in an electrical 


The dog was gone. 

In the cellar, the incinerator glowed suddenly and a whirl 
of sparks leaped up the chimney. 


Bridge tables sprouted from patio walls. Playing cards 
fluttered onto pads in a shower of pips. Martinis manifested 
on an oaken bench with egg-salad sandwiches. Music played. 

But the tables were silent and the cards untouched. 

At four o'clock the tables folded like great butterflies 
back through the paneled walls. 


The nursery walls glowed. 

Animals took shape: yellow giraffes, blue lions, pink ante¬ 
lopes, lilac panthers cavorting in crystal substance. The walls 
were glass. They looked out upon color and fantasy. Hidden 
films clocked through well-oiled sprockets, and the walls 
lived. The nursery floor was woven to resemble a crisp, cereal 
meadow. Over this ran aluminum roaches and iron crickets, 
and in the hot still air butterflies of delicate red tissue 
wavered among the sharp aroma of animal spoors! There was 
the sound like a great matted yellow hive of bees within a 
dark bellows, the lazy bumble of a purring lion. And there 
was the patter of okapi feet and the murmur of a fresh jungle 
rain, like other hooves, falling upon the summer-starched 
grass. Now the walls dissolved into distances of parched 
weed, mile on mile, and warm endless sky. The animals drew 
away into thorn brakes and water holes. 

It was the children's hour. 

Five-o'clock. The bath filled with clear hot water. 

Six , seven , eight o'clock. The dinner dishes manipulated 
like magic tricks, and in the study a click. In the metal stand 
opposite the hearth where a fire now blazed up warmly, a 
cigar popped out, half an inch of gray ash on it, smoking, 

Nine o'clock. The beds warmed their hidden circuits, 
for nights were cool here. 

Nine-five. A voice spoke from the study ceiling: 

“Mrs. McClellan, which poem would you like this 

The house was silent. 

The voice said at last, “Since you express no preference, I 
shall select a poem at random." Quiet music rose to back the 
voice. “Sara Teasdale. As I recall, your favorite. . . . 

u There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground , 

And swallows circling with their shimmering sound; 

And frogs in the pools singing at night , 

And wild plum trees in tremulous white; 

Robins will wear their feathery fire, 

Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire; 

And not one will know of the war , not one 

Will care at last when it is done. 

Not one would mind ., neither bird nor tree , 

If mankind perished utterly; 

And Spring herself when she awoke at dawn 

Would scarcely know that we were gone." 

The fire burned on the stone hearth and the cigar fell 
away into a mound of quiet ash on its tray. The empty chairs 
faced each other between the silent walls, and the music 

At ten o'clock the house began to die. 

The wind blew. A falling tree bough crashed through the 
kitchen window. Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over 
the stove. The room was ablaze in an instant! 

“Fire!" screamed a voice. The house lights flashed, water 
pumps shot water from the ceilings. But the solvent spread 
on the linoleum, licking, eating, under the kitchen door, 
while the voices took it up in chorus: “Fire, fire, fire!" 

The house tried to save itself. Doors sprang tightly shut, 
but the windows were broken by the heat and the wind 
blew and sucked upon the fire. 

The house gave ground as the fire in ten billion angry 
sparks moved with flaming ease from room to room and then 
up the stairs. While scurrying water rats squeaked from the 
walls, pistoled their water, and ran for more. And the wall 
sprays let down showers of mechanical rain. 

But too late. Somewhere, sighing, a pump shrugged to a 
stop. The quenching rain ceased. The reserve water supply 
which had filled baths and washed dishes for many quiet 
days was gone. 

The fire crackled up the stairs. It fed upon Picassos and 
Matisses in the upper halls, like delicacies, baking off the 
oily flesh, tenderly crisping the canvases into black shavings. 

Now the fire lay in beds, stood in windows, changed the 
colors of drapes! 

And then, reinforcements. 

From attic trapdoors, blind robot faces peered down with 
faucet mouths gushing green chemical. 

The fire backed off, as even an elephant must at the sight 
of a dead snake. Now there were twenty snakes whipping 
over the floor, killing the fire with a clear cold venom of 
green froth. 

But the fire was clever. It had sent flame outside the 
house, up through the attic to the pumps there. An explo¬ 
sion! The attic brain which directed the pumps shattered into 
bronze shrapnel on the beams. 

The fire rushed back into every closet and felt of the 
clothes hung there. 

The house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared 
skeleton cringing from the heat, its wire, its nerves revealed 
as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and 
capillaries quiver in the scalded air. Help, help! Fire! Run, 
run! Heat snapped mirrors like the brittle winter ice. And the 
voices wailed Fire, fire, run, run, like a tragic nursery rhyme, 
a dozen voices, high, low, like children dying in a forest, 
alone, alone. And the voices fading as the wires popped their 

sheathings like hot chestnuts. One, two, three, four, five 
voices died. 

In the nursery the jungle burned. Blue lions roared, purple 
giraffes bounded off. The panthers ran in circles, changing 
color, and ten million animals, running before the fire, van¬ 
ished off toward a distant steaming river. . . . 

Ten more voices died. In the last instant under the fire 
avalanche, other choruses, oblivious, could be heard announc¬ 
ing the time, playing music, cutting the lawn by remote- 
control mower, or setting an umbrella frantically out and in 
the slamming and opening front door, a thousand things 
happening, like a clock shop when each clock strikes the hour 
insanely before or after the other, a scene of maniac con¬ 
fusion, yet unity; singing, screaming, a few last cleaning mice 
darting bravely out to carry the horrid ashes away! And one 
voice, with sublime disregard for the situation, read poetry 
aloud in the fiery study, until all the film spools burned, until 
all the wires withered and the circuits cracked. 

The fire burst the house and let it slam flat down, puffing 
out skirts of spark and smoke. 

In the kitchen, an instant before the rain of fire and 
timber, the stove could be seen making breakfasts at a psy¬ 
chopathic rate, ten dozen eggs, six loaves of toast, twenty 
dozen bacon strips, which, eaten by fire, started the stove 
working again, hysterically hissing! 

The crash. The attic smashing into the kitchen and parlor. 
The parlor into cellar, cellar into subcellar. Deep freeze, arm¬ 
chair, film tapes, circuits, beds, and all like skeletons thrown 
in a cluttered mound deep under. 

Smoke and silence. A great quantity of smoke. 

Dawn showed faintly in the east. Among the ruins, one 
wall stood alone, Within the wall, a last voice said, over and 
over again and again, even as the sun rose to shine upon the 
heaped rubble and steam: 

"Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today 
is . . ” 


GIGO means if you give the computer incorrect information it will give back 
incorrect output—Garbage In, Garbage Out. When astronauts L. Gordon 
Cooper and Charles Conrad splashed down 103 miles off target, it was no fault 
of theirs or of their computer. The re-entry was computerguided. In deter¬ 
mining the exact time for firing retro rockets, the programmer had assumed 
that the earth revolved exactly once every 24 hours, whereas in fact—as we 
know from having to squeeze in a whole extra day every fourth year—it makes 
slightly more than one revolution in that time. But if you're orbiting the earth 
many times and someone fires the retros exactly at 1:51 p.m., after figuring 
on a day of precisely 24 hours, you can wind up off target by a significant 
number of miles—which is just what happened to astronauts Cooper and 
Conrad. GIGO. 

The Imitation 


I propose to consider the question, 
'Can machines think?' This should 
begin with definitions of the meaning 
of the terms 'machine' and 'think'. 
The definitions might be framed so 
as to reflect so far as possible the 
normal use of the words, but this 
attitude is dangerous. If the meaning 
of the words 'machine' and 'think' 
are to be found by examining how 
they are commonly used it is difficult 
to escape the conclusion that the 
meaning and the answer to the ques¬ 
tion, 'Can machines think?' is to be 
sought in a statistical survey such as 
a Gallup polk But this is absurd. 
Instead of attempting such a defini¬ 
tion I shall replace the question by 
another, which is closely related to it 
and is expressed in relatively un¬ 
ambiguous words. 

The new form of the problem can 
be described in terms of a game 
which we call the 'imitation game'. 

It is played with three people, a man 
(A), a woman (B), and an interro¬ 
gator (C) who may be of either sex. 
The interrogator stays in a room 
apart from the other two. The object 
of the game for the interrogator is to 
determine which of the other two is 
the man and which is the woman. 

He knows them by labels X and Y, 
and at the end of the game he says 
either 'X is A and Y is B' or 'X is 
B and Y is A'. The interrogator is 
allowed to put questions to A and B 

C: Will X please tell me the length 
of his or her hair? Now suppose X is 
actually A, then A must answer. It is 
A's object in the game to try and 
cause C to make the wrong identifi¬ 
cation. His answer might therefore be 

'My hair is shingled, and the long¬ 
est strands are about nine inches 

In order that tones of voice may 
not help the interrogator the answers 
should be written, or better still, 
typewritten. The ideal arrangement 
is to have a teleprinter communicat¬ 
ing between the two rooms. Alterna¬ 
tively the question and answers can 
be repeated by an intermediary. The 
object of the game for the third 
player (B) is to help the interrogator. 
The best strategy for her is probably 
to give truthful answers. She can add 
such things as 'I am the woman, 
don't listen to him!' to her answers, 

but it will avail nothing as the man 
can make similar remarks. 

We now ask the question, 'What 
will happen when a machine takes 
the part of A in this game?' Will the 
interrogator decide wrongly as often 
when the game is played like this as 
he does when the game is played 
between a man and a woman? These 
questions replace our original, 'Can 
machines think?' 


As well as asking, 'What is the answer 
to this new form of the question', 
one may ask, 'Is this new question a 
worthy one to investigate?' This 
latter question we investigate without 
further ado, thereby cutting short an 
infinite regress. 

The new problem has the advan¬ 
tage of drawing a fairly sharp line 
between the physical and the intel¬ 
lectual capacities of a man. No 
engineer or chemist claims to be able 
to produce a material which is indis¬ 
tinguishable from the human skin. It 
is possible that at some time this 
might be done, but even supposing 
this invention available we should feel 
there was little point in trying to 
make a 'thinking machine' more 
human by dressing it up in such 
artificial flesh. The form in which we 
have set the problem reflects this fact 
in the condition which prevents the 
interrogator from seeing or touching 
the other competitors, or hearing 
their voices. Some other advantages 
of the proposed criterion may be 
shown up by specimen questions and 
answers. Thus: 

Q: Please write me a sonnet on the 
subject of the Forth Bridge. 

A: Count me out on this one. I 
never could write poetry. 

Q: Add 34957 to 70764 
A: (Pause about 30 seconds and 
then give as answer) 105621. 

Q: Do you play chess? 

A: Yes. 

Q: I have K at my K1 , and no 
other pieces. You have only K at K6 
and R at Rl. It is your move. What 
do you play? 

A: (After a pause of 15 seconds) 

R-R8 mate. 

The question and answer method 
seems to be suitable for introducing 
almost any one of the fields of 
human endeavour that we wish to in- 

elude. We do not wish to penalise 
the machine for its inability to shine 
in beauty competitions, nor to penal¬ 
ise a man for losing in a race against 
an aeroplane. The conditions of our 
game make these disabilities irrelevant. 
The witnesses' can brag, if they 
consider it advisable, as much as 
they please about their charms, 
strength or heroism, but the interro¬ 
gator cannot demand practical 

The game may perhaps be criti¬ 
cised on the ground that the odds 

are weighted too heavily against the 
machine. If the man were to try and 
pretend to be the machine he would 
clearly make a very poor showing. He 
would be given away at once by slow¬ 
ness and inaccuracy in arithmetic. 
May not machines carry out some¬ 
thing which ought to be described as 
thinking but which is very different 
from what a man does? This objec¬ 
tion is a very strong one, but at least 
we can say that if, nevertheless, a 
machine can be constructed to play 
the imitation game satisfactorily, we 

need not be troubled by this objection. 

It might be urged that when play¬ 
ing the 'imitation game' the best 
strategy for the machine may possibly 
be something other than imitation of 
the behaviour of a man. This may be, 
but I think it is unlikely that there is 
any great effect of this kind. In any 
case there is no intention to investi¬ 
gate here the theory of the game, 
and it will be assumed that the best 
strategy is to try to provide answers 
that would naturally be given by a 


Arbid, Michael A. The Metaphorical Brain. New York: 

Wiley-Interscience, 1972. 

"Computer Art Contest." This is an annual event in every 

August issue of Computers and People. 

Darrach, Brad. "Meet Shakey, the First Electronic Person." 

Life , November 20, 1970. 

Dreyfus, Hubert L. What Computers Cant Do. New York: 

Harper & Row, 1972. 

Feigenbaum, E., and }. Feldman. Computers and Thought. 
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963. 


1. Is a man-machine symbiosis possible or desirable? 

2. Scientists often justify their research into unpopular 
areas by the statement "Science and technology are 
morally neutral." Discuss this statement in its relation 
to computers. 

3. Would the following be a good test of the question 
"can computers think?" Suppose you are sitting at a 
computer terminal. You can type in anything you want, 
and the computer terminal will respond. Now at the 
other end of the terminal there could be either a person 
or a computer. Your job is to decide if the thing re¬ 
sponding is a person or a computer. If you could not 
tell when the respondent was a person and when a 
computer, would you agree the computer was thinking? 

4. Today there are many mechanical parts available for 
human bodies. Examples are heart pacemakers, artifi¬ 
cial limbs, joints, and bone substitutes. Find out what 
is available today and predict what may be available 
ten or twenty years from now. A science-fiction book 
on this subject is Cyborg by Martin Caidin. (New York: 
Warner Paperback, 1972). 

5. Find out the present possibilities and limitations of 
playing chess by computer. 

6. Research the present and future use and capabilities of 

mmnntprs in f*he home 

Slack, Charles W., and Warner V. Slack. "Good! We are 
Listening to You Talk About Your Sadness." Psychology 
Today , January 1974. 

Smith, Ray W., and Emory Kristof. "Computer Helps 
Scholars Re-create an Egyptian Temple." National Geo¬ 
graphic , November 1970. 

White, Peter T. "Behold the Computer Revolution." Na¬ 
tional Geographic , November 1970. 

7. Find some examples of failure in the use of computers. 
Two books that cover the subject are: 

a) The Real Computer by Frederic Withington 
(Addison-W esley) 

b) The Beast of Business by Harvey Matusow (Lon¬ 
don: Wolfe Publishing) 

What are some of the major reasons that contribute to 
failures in computer use? 

8. Find out how many people are employed in computer 
fields and what types of positions they occupy. Deter¬ 
mine pay scales for some of the positions. 

9. List the major computer professional organizations. 
How many members are in each? What type of com¬ 
puter professional belongs to each group? What are 
each organization's goals, costs, benefits, and publica¬ 
tions? Which group would you be most likely to join? 

10. What training is available for people wishing to enter 
the computer fields in your area in: high schools, junior 
colleges, colleges, and private schools? What are the 
costs and benefits of attending one school instead of 
another? Evaluate the training program in one of the 

11. Pick out a job you would like to have in the computer 
field. Then map a plan of attack to get that type of job 

showing training needed, pay expectation, your chance 
of success, and so forth. Where will you apply for this 
type of job? Why should you be hired? 

12. Survey the computer operator and programming help- 
wanted ads for several weeks in a large metropolitan 
newspaper, and see if you can determine the following: 

a) What type of jobs are available? 

b) What programming language is most in demand? 

c) What wages are being paid? 

d) What types of computers are being used? 

13. Programmers provide detailed directions for computers 
to obtain results. Try writing some detailed instructions 
for a simple task, such as 

a) How to tie a shoelace 

b) How to dial a telephone number 

c) How to fry an egg 

Then trade your instructions with someone else and try 
to follow each others instructions. 

14. Prepare an organization chart of the staff of a computer 
center and indicate the position titles. 

15. Find out exactly what equipment is available in your 
computer center. Next, find out which pieces are avail¬ 
able for you to use, and which only computer center 
staff use. Finally, learn how to use some of the equip¬ 
ment that is available to you. 


What the 

Computers Will Be 
Telling You 


An incisive look at how your business 
will change if you make the most of the 

There are still a good many business¬ 
men around who have little use for, 
and less interest in, the computer. 
There are also still quite a few who 
believe that the computer somehow, 
someday will replace man or become 
his master. 

Others, however, realize by now 
that the computer, while powerful, is 
only a tool and is neither going to 
replace man nor control him. Being a 
tool, it has limitations as well as 

The trick lies in knowing both 
what it can do and what it cannot 
do. Without Such knowledge, the 
executive can find himself in real 
trouble in the computer age. 

The computer is transfoming the 
way businesses operate and is creating 
problems as well as opportunities. For 

The mistakes you make are more 
likely to be whoppers. 

You will have much more flexi¬ 
bility in how your business is set 

u p - 

You will need to have alternative 
courses of action planned in 

Eventually we will use computer 
centers as we now plug into 
public utilities. 

We will be able to control manu¬ 
facturing processes more through 
direct observation. 

Someday we will have little need 
for computer programmers. 

Mankind has developed two kinds 
of tools. Tools which do something 
man himself cannot do, such as the 
saw. The saw, the wheel, the airplane 
all are tools that add to man a new 
dimension of capability. 

The other kind of tool is one that 
does much better what man can do 
himself. The hammer belongs here 
and the pliers. And so does the com¬ 
puter. These are the tools that 
multiply man's capacity. They do not 
enable him to do something he could 
not do before, but to do it better, 
faster and more reliably. 

The computer is a logic machine. 
All it can do is add and subtract. 
This, however, it can do at very 
great speed. And since all operations 
of mathematics and logic are exten¬ 
sions of addition and subtraction, the 
computer can perform all mathemati¬ 
cal and logical operations by just 

adding and subtracting very fast, very 
many times. And because it is inani¬ 
mate, it does not get tired. It does 
not forget. It does not draw over¬ 
time. It can work 24 hours a day. 

Finally, it can store information 
capable of being handled through 
addition and subtraction, theoreti¬ 
cally without limits. 


What, then, can the computer do, 
for the businessman? There are 
basically five major tasks it can 

1. The computer, as a mechanical 
clerk, can handle large masses of 
repetitive, but simple, paper work: 
Payroll, billing and so on. All this 
application really uses is the speed of 
the computer. 

2. The computer can collect, proc¬ 
ess, store, analyze and present infor¬ 
mation at dazzling speeds. 

So far, however, business has used 
only a small part of this capacity. We 
use the computer to collect, store 
and present data. Very little use is 
yet made of the computer's capacity 
to analyze information. The com¬ 
puter can, if properly instructed, 
compare the data it receives against 
the data it had been told to expect— 
for instance, budget figures. It can 
immediately spot any difference be¬ 
tween the two sets of data and alert 
management. It can do even more 
than that. It can analyze data against 
an expected pattern, and detect any 
significant deviation. 

One business application, for in¬ 
stance, is the analysis of sales data 
to pinpoint a meaningful and im¬ 
portant market segment. 

Do physicians in the suburbs use 
the same prescription drugs as physi¬ 
cians in small towns, or are suburban 
physicians a distinct market segment? 
And do medical specialists—the 
pediatricians, for example, as against 
the internists—prescribe differently? 
Are they a specific market segment? 

Or what about old doctors versus 
young ones? 

Somebody has to think up the 
questions. But once the computer has 
been instructed, it can almost imme¬ 
diately analyze actual prescriptions 
written by physicians and come up 
with the answers. 

PftlP? YVO ft WEEK/ 


j ¥7,000 A ycftP! 

MAKING ¥ 7,300 

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600P years! 


What this means is that managers 
must carefully think through what 
information it is that they need. 

The first step towards using the 
computer properly is to ask this 
question: How do we use it to make 
available the minimum of data, but 
the right data? What data is relevant 
for the sales manager, the factory 
superintendent, the salesmen, the 
research director, the cost accountant 
or top management? 

The computer's capacity to provide 
people with information they need, 
in the form they need it and at the 
time they need it is the great versa¬ 
tility of the tool. So far it is not used 
too well by most businesses. 

Most companies, in deciding on 
capital investment, still look at only 
one kind of analysis: 

Expected return on the investment. 

The number of years it is likely to 
take before the investment re¬ 
pays itself. 

Or present value of the anticipated 
future earnings, the so-called 
discounted cash flow. 

Accountants argue hotly about the 
advantages of each of these methods. 
Actually they are all valid and all 
needed. Hitherto, management had 
to be content with one because it 
was simply too much work to get all 
three. This is no longer true. Manage¬ 
ment can now ask to have capital 
investments calculated in all three 
ways by the computer—then look at 
all three and see which tells the 

The mistakes you make are more 
likeiy to be whoppers. 

In other words, management has 
to make the information capacity 
of the computer fully productive. 

3. The computer can also help 
design physical structures. 

Program into the computer all the 
factors that go into building a high¬ 
way, plus the basic features of the 
country across which it is to be built. 
The computer can then work out 
very rapidly where the highway 
should go to take full advantage of 
the physical and economic character¬ 
istics of the terrain. 

Here the great capacity of the 
computer to handle large masses of 
variables quickly comes into play. 

Here also its ability to convert graphics 
into numbers and numbers into 
graphics is of great importance. 

This ability to work out physical 
design will find its greatest applica¬ 
tion in the physical sciences where 
there are clear, known predictable 
occurrences—that is, natural events. 
Social events are at best probable, 
never certain. Therefore, this physical 
design capacity is a tool of engineer¬ 
ing, of chemistry or physics, rather 
than of business. 

4. The computer has the capacity to 
restore a process to preset conditions, 
to “control” a process, and this 
application is highly relevant to busi¬ 
ness operations. 

For instance, if the computer has 
been programed for a desired level of 
inventory and for the factors that 
determine inventory levels (sales 
volume, volume of shipments, volume 
of stock, etc.), it can control inven¬ 
tory. It can tell you when your stock 
of certain items should be renewed. 

It can order goods to be assembled 
for shipping to a customer. It can 
even actuate machinery bins and put 
the goods together into one shipping 

It can do the same for all processes 
for which we can set the desired 

This is what people mean when 
they talk of the computer's making 
“operating decisions.” But this is a 
gross misnomer. The computer does 
not make any decisions. It simply 
carries out orders. The decision has 
to be made first, and the computer 
told what to do. 


What the computer can do is serve 
as a monitor and immediately notice 
any change between the expected 
and actual course of events. It can 
then report what it has noticed. 

We can go one step further and 
tell the computer how to react to a 
given event. The computer can carry 
out our orders. It can shut down a 
machine or speed it up. It can close a 
valve or open it, thereby changing 
mixtures. It can print out a purchase 
order or a shipping order. 

It can carry out whatever order 
we first put into it. 

5. Finally, the computer can, and 
will, play an increasing role in stra¬ 
tegic business decision-making—de¬ 
ciding what course of action to take. 
Here we no longer deal with restoring 
a process to a predetermined level. 
We are talking about decisions to 
change the process. 

What the computer can do here is 
simulate. It can rapidly work out 
what would happen if certain things 

were done under certain assumed 
conditions. It cannot determine what 
things might be done. And it cannot 
determine the assumptions. Both 
have to be determined for it. 

But it can tell you, for instance, 
that the introduction of a new pro¬ 
duct at a given price and given cost 
would be justified only if you could 
assume a certain volume of sales. 



It can tell you that a new product 
at a certain price and with a certain 
volume of sales would have to cost 
no more than a certain amount to be 

It can tell you what market you 
have to assume for a new product to 
have a chance of success. 

It can also tell executives what 
assumptions management has made, 
consciously or subconsciously, when it 
reaches a decision. If we build a new 
plant with a certain capacity, for 
instance, how much must it be able 
to sell, for how long and at what 
price to earn a given return on the 

Simulation has largely been used 
for events which are predictable and 
occur regularly. 

So far, no one has successfully 
simulated a major strategic business 
decision. Such a decision involves 
future social, political and economic 
events for which there are no known 
predictabilities and laws. Thus, 
strategic business decisions will re¬ 
main risk-taking decisions. But the 
computer will soon be able to point 
out what we assume when we make 
this or that decision and what deci¬ 
sion follows logically from this or that 
assumption. This applies particularly 
for recurrent business decisions, such 
as introduction of new products, pric¬ 
ing decisions and the simpler kinds of 
capital investment. 

The use of the computer as a 
tool in strategic decision-making is 
perhaps our most exciting possibility. 
For it means that business managers 
will have to learn to think system¬ 
atically about strategic decisions, and 

The computer cannot bring out¬ 
side events, by and large, to the 
attention of management. 

learn how to find and analyze alter¬ 
natives of strategy. 


However, the computer can't handle 
all information. It can accept only 
information capable of being quanti¬ 
fied and dealt with logically. This is 
only a part of the information neces¬ 
sary in the business world. 

The information most important 

to a businessman is not capable of 
being quantified. It can only be 
perceived. This is information about 
something that is about to happen, 
information about a change in the 

This becomes particularly critical 
in events outside your business, events 
in the economy, the market, in so¬ 
ciety. Here what matters is the new, 
the unique, the event that signals a 

The computer cannot bring out- 

When “Brains” Take Over Factories— 

U.S. News and World Report 

There's a showdown coming in automation. 

The big issue is jobs. There are fewer jobs for men and more for “electronic 
brains" to be found in factories. The question that is raised: 

“Is automation a boon—or a curse?" 

In the glass industry, 14 men attend the glass-blowing machines that make 
90 per cent of all the glass light bulbs produced in this country. 

In the auto industry, 10 operators man a machine that turns out motor 
blocks. Ten years ago, 400 men were required to produce the blocks. 

In electronics, two workers now turn out 1,000 radios a day. A few years ago 
it took 200 men to do the same job. 

Electronic brains make automation of this kind possible, enabling machines 
to control their own operations and make their own decisions with little or no 
human aid. 

Labor leaders claim that automation of this kind is putting 2 million men 
out of work each year. 

Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, saw a crisis ahead, 
contended that new machines and technology will throw 28 million men out of 
work in this decade. George Meany, head of the AFL-CIO, calls automation a 
“curse." Labor points to a specter of a chronic mass army of unemployed. 

Top businessmen contend that without automation the United States will 
fall by the wayside against foreigh competition. At stake are billions of dollars 
in profits and America's still-favorable trade position abroad. 

Roger M. Blough, chairman of the board of United States Steel Corporation, 
argues that automation—like it or not—is here to stay: “Even if it were possible 
to block change in America, or to slow it to a snail's pace, other men and other 
nations would merely pass us by while our dragging feet trudged to national 

Many “solutions" are being offered to increase employment: a shorter work¬ 
week, retraining and relocation of the jobless, creation of new industries and 

Most experts see shortcomings in all these proposals. Retraining provides a 
dramatic example: In California, where 50,000 unemployed were eligible for 
13-week training courses, only 38 applied for retraining and 26 actually took the 

John I. Snyder, Jr., a manufacturer of automated machines, has worked 
closely with labor on the problem. He insists the problem can be solved only if 
business, labor and Government start pulling in the same direction. If not, he 
says, automation could mean “a national catastrophe that will make the great 
depression of the 1930s seem like a humorous anecdote in our country's 

Government leaders see a showdown coming. They want it to be peaceful. 
But already the warnings are starting to be sounded: The coming showdown 
over automation could lead to costly strife between management and labor. 

side events, by and large, to the 
attention of management. Therefore, 
management must realize this limita¬ 
tion of the computer. It is above all 
a tool for controlling events within 
the business. 

However, it is only on the outside 
that a business has results. Inside a 
business there are only costs. Only a 
customer converts the efforts of a 
business into value, revenues and 

This all means, indeed, that the 
computer can become a terrific ob¬ 
stacle. If the tremendous amount of 
inside information the computer 
makes available causes management 
to neglect to look outside—or become 
contemptuous of the messy, imprecise, 
unreliable data outside—then manage¬ 
ment will end up on the scrap heap. 

On the other hand, the computer 
can enable businessmen to devote a 
good deal more time to looking at 
the outside and studying it than they 
can now. 

As a result of the computer, there 
will be fewer and fewer small deci¬ 
sions and fewer and fewer small 
mistakes. The computer will make 
small decisions into big decisions. 

And if they are made wrongly, the 
mistakes will be pretty big ones. 

It is simply not true that the com¬ 
puter will eliminate middle managers. 
On the contrary, the computer will 
force middle managers to learn to 
make decisions. 

A regional sales manager today 
makes his inventory and shipping 
decisions on an ad hoc basis. They 
are not really decisions, but adap¬ 
tations. But he also does not run 
much of a risk. Each decision stands 
by itself and usually can be easily 

But to enable the computer to 
control inventory, a decision has to 
be made and the decision has to be 
thought through. It is neither easy 
nor riskless. 

On the contrary, it implies very 
major decisions with impact on the 
entire business, including customer 
service, production schedules and 
money tied up in inventory. You 
have to think through whether you 
can afford to give all customers 24- 
hour service on all products. This 
usually means an absolutely impos¬ 
sible inventory and a totally chaotic 
production schedule. 

If you can't afford that, do you 
give this kind of service only to good 
customers? And how do you define a 
good customer? 

And do you give this service to all 
your products, or only the major 

And again, what is a major product? 

These are not easy decisions. Until 
recently there was no need to tackle 
them. Each specific case was handled 
as a unique event. If a customer didn't 
like the way he was treated and 
squawked, one treated him differently 
the next time. 

But as far as the computer is 
concerned, inventory and shipping 
instructions have to be based on a 
fundamental policy: They have to be 
decided on principle. And this goes 

for all other so-called operating 

They all become true decisions. 
Otherwise, one cannot instruct the 
computer to execute them. 


The greatest weakness of business at 
present is the fact that middle mana¬ 
gers, by and large, are not being 
trained and tested in risk-taking 
decisions. Hence, when moved into 
top management, middle managers 
suddenly find themselves up against 
decisions they have not been exposed 
to before. This is the major reason 
why so many fail when they reach 
the top. 

The computer will force us to de¬ 
velop managers who are trained and 
tested in making the strategic deci¬ 
sions which determine business 
success or failure. 

I doubt that the computer will 
much reduce the number of middle 
management jobs. Instead the com¬ 
puter is restructuring these jobs, 
enabling us to organize work where it 
logically belongs and to free middle 
managers for more important duties. 

For instance, by tradition a district 
sales manager had three jobs. 

He was expected to train and lead 
a sales force. This was his main job- 
on paper. In reality he gave very 
little time to it. 

For he also was an office manager, 
handling a lot of paper work—bills, 
credits, collections and payroll. Then 
he usually had a big job running a 
warehouse and taking care of the 
physical movement of merchandise to 
customers in his district. 

Now the computer makes it pos¬ 
sible to centralize all paper work in 
the head office—bills, payroll, in¬ 
voices, credits, shipping instructions. 
We can print out computer-handled 
paper work any place in the world 
from a central computer. 

At the same time, the computer 
makes possible a sharp cut in the 
number of warehouses. For the com¬ 
puter can handle all inventory as one 
inventory, no matter where it is. 


The computer, therefore, can supply 
customers from a much smaller num¬ 
ber of warehouses and with a very 
much smaller inventory. There is no 
longer any reason why, in most busi¬ 
nesses, a warehouse needs to be in 
the same place as the district sales 
office. We may have 50 district sales 
offices, but need only eight ware¬ 
houses—and only one location for all 
paper work. 

This frees the district sales manager 
for the job that always should have 
been his main preoccupation—manag¬ 
ing the sales effort. 

In other words, the computing 
enables us to structure according to 
need. In the past, corporate structure 
was largely determined by geography 
and the limitations on information. 
This is no longer necessary. We can 
now decide how we want to set up 
the business. 

We can build decision centers 
where the decisions are best made, 
rather than where geography and 
absence of information force us to 

More than likely, this will mean 
that more people will have decision¬ 
making authority, simply because 
more people can get the information 
they require to make the decision. 

At the same time, the computer 
will enable top management to insist 
that decisions be made as decisions 
and with proper thought and under¬ 
standing. It will, above all, enable 
top management to insist that alter¬ 
natives are thought through, including 
what to do if the decision does not 
work out. 

With the computer and its ability 

‘Hey, Bartender! Pour Me Another Scotch!’ 
Whir, Buzz, Pocketa 


Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal 

We have some bad news to report. 

While some of the nation's drinkers have been quietly downing an occasional 
drink on the house, and while some of the nation's bartenders have been 
quietly dipping into the till, some of the nation's bar owners have been quietly 
buying little computers. And the little computers can do two things: They can 
mix drinks, and they can count. They can do both tasks very precisely. 

And you know what that means. 

It means no more drinks on the house. It means no more little extras for 
bartenders. It means no heavy hand on the gin on those nights when you really 
need a heavy hand on the gin. 

It also means more profits for bar owners, and that, of course, is why bar 
owners are putting out thousands of dollars for computers. 

It is already too late to stop this trend. “The sales outlook is unbelievable," 
says one man who sells these mechanical bartenders. Another says, “The indus¬ 
try is only in its infancy, but we've started to see extremely rapid growth in the 
last several months." Some large companies are entering the field, and you 
know what that means. 

National Cash Register Co. of Dayton has sold more than 500 of its Elektra- 
Bar systems and has orders for over 100 of a newer model; the systems, introduced 
in late 1970, cost around $10,000 apiece. Other companies, among them Bar 
Boy, Inc. of San Diego, Electronic Dispensers International of Concord, Calif., 
and an Illinois-based subsidiary of a German company called Anker-Werke— 
agree. Their models, which sell for $600 to over $15,000, are selling as fast as 
you can say “very dry Beefeater martini on the rocks, with a twist." 

WHIR, BUZZ, HUM, $1.25. 

But why? Because computers don't drink. Because computers don't hand out 
free drinks to other computers who might stop by for a fast one or two. Be¬ 
cause computers keep track of the inventory. And because computers don't dip 
into the till to get a little extra money to make car payments. “The average 
(human type) bartender steals enough to make a car payment," contends 
Homer Lum, food and beverage manager at the Sheraton Inn-Hopkins at 
Cleveland's Hopkins Airport. “If they're driving a Chevy, they're taking in 
enough on the side to pay for a Chevy. If they're driving a Cadillac, they're 
taking in enough to pay for a Cadillac." 

The machines also eliminate overpouring by bartenders, the bar owners say 
with as much enthusiasm as bar owners ever muster. “For consistency of drink, 
the machine is great," says John J. Urban, food and beverage manager at a 
Holiday Inn in North Randall, Ohio. His machine is programmed to mete out 
precisely an ounce and a quarter of liquor for each $1.25 drink. (Actually, that's 
not too bad a deal. A machine at the Charter One Club in Baytown, Texas, 
pours exactly three-fourths of an ounce of booze into each $1.10 drink, says 
assistant manager Bill Mitchell. The machine, he adds, “is very accurate.") 



Science Fiction Art 

I once saw a cartoon in which a 
librarian was moving the science 
fiction books into the history section. 
Little did we think we would see 
humans walking on the moon, but that 
is history now. Science fiction 
portrayed humans on the moon long 
ago. Thus it is not so surprising that 
research institutions often have 
science fiction in their technical 
libraries, as a source of new ideas. 
Time sifts out incorrect predictions in 
science fiction just as it does in 
science. The computers of tomorrow 
are running successfully in the 
science fiction of today. Ah, but which 
ones are they? 

Sometimes more fascinating than 
science fiction stories themselves are 
the artists’ attempts to show us the 
inventions described in the tales. The 
artistic interpretations in this section 
come from the covers of science 
fiction “pulp” magazines and paper¬ 
back books. Some are old (the one on 
this page is from 1932); some are 
more recent; but all are thought- 
provoking. Looking at these covers 
provides an opportunity to see how at 
least one group of people thought 
about the computer and its future 

Copyright © 1931 by The Clayton Magazines, Inc. 

By permission of Street & Smith Publications, Inc. 

Artificial Intelligence 

Is artificial intelligence to remain “artificial”? Oris a new 
intellectual species to be our companions, or to challenge us? 

Computers can now play simple games. But many of the 
early successes that were made in the field of artificial 
intelligence are in about the same place today. 

The goal of many artificial-intelligence projects, such as 
chess championship, has been ten years away for about the 
past twenty years. I shall label this ten years Van Tassel’s 
constant . That is, the goal of difficult projects is always ten 
years away. 

This ten-year figure is not an accidental number—it has a 
psychological basis. If the goal is closer, say four years away, 
we must soon make progress. That is, after two years we * 
must be half finished. If the goal is further away, say twenty 
years, we tend to question it. After all, who would wish to work 
on something he or she might not be around to see succeed? 

The robot, a popular theme in science fiction, is a variation 
of the application of artificial intelligence. Robots are pictured 
as anything from great clumping monsters to sophisticated 
machines that are outwardly human and capable of rational 
thought. (By the way, see if you can find the source of the 
word robot.) Most stories present the robot as our servant. 
Would robots make the quality of our lives better by taking over 
menial chores? Would such a situation gradually deprive us of 
our ambition and drive? Given that these creatures would be 
capable of rational, unemotional thought, would they ultimately 
prevent us from performing acts that are irrational and 
emotional, like war? 



There’s a robot In your future. But don’t cringe. He, 
she, or it may be the lovable sort, like the mechanical 
marvels in stories by Isaac Asimov, Eando Binder, Les¬ 
ter Del Rey, Michael Fischer, Raymond Z. Galkin, Peter 
Phillips, Clifford D. Simak, F. Orlin Tremaine, Harl 
Vincent, and John Wyndham. 



H&, 60 



© Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. 1963 

By permission of Daw Books 

Copyright © 1937 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc. Copyright © 1965 renewed by The Conde Nast Publications Inc. 

Biological Applications 

Biological manipulation and control are favorite themes in 
science fiction. Consider for a moment the possibility of storing 
in a data bank all your mental patterns: your memories, 
your personality, and everything that makes you you. Will it be 
possible to implant this computer-stored you in a baby after 
you die? Will it be possible to store the mental patterns of an 
ideal soldier or factory worker and implant these in newborn 
(perhaps even artifically created) infants, thus creating a 
specialized soldier or worker? Or, if you have a fatal disease, 
can you be put into a computer-controlled state of hibernation 
to be reawakened when a cure has been found? Can miniature 
computers be implanted in your body to control artificial 
limbs? v 

To a certain extent, the latter is already being done. 
Computer-related devices can monitor body functions such as 
blood flow, temperature, gland secretion, and the like. Next, 
computers can be used to expand our natural intelligence— 
to increase our information-processing ability. An internally 
implanted device could improve our capacity to process 
numeric data. Thus in the future you may not know whether 
you are talking to someone with an implanted computer, as 
now you cannot tell now whether someone has a pacemaker. 

Just as today we spend large sums on automobiles, in the 
future we may spend a similar amount on an implanted 
computer to aid our brains. Are you ready for your “implanted 
Cadillac” of the future? 

Copyright © 1972 by The Conde Nast Publications Inc. 

Which is the thinking machine—the man or the computer? 
Will the machine ever be able to think like a person? What 
does it mean to think? The flashing red light indicates system 
failure, but which system has failed? The man? The machine? 

Copyright © 1957 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc. 

What do you think is happening to this woman? Is her body 
being rejuvenated, or is she becoming old? How would you 
feel about having a lifespan of, say, 250 years? What are the 
advantages and disadvantages of such a long life? How could 
the computer be used to help us adjust to such longevity? 

Copyright © 1954 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc. 

Miniaturization and Process Control 

The machine, of whatever kind, held as much fascination 
for the public of the 1920s and ’30s as the computer does now 
for us. Those days witnessed the emergence of airlines, mass 
production, and other technological improvements that we 
simply take for granted today. Machines pictured in early 
stories were like the early computers: HUGE. The “waldo” on 
this cover is obviously an enormous machine capable of doing 
great amounts of work. (In fact, the term waldo is now a part 
of our vocabulary as the general term for an automatic 
handling device.) But big is not necessarily better. Present-day 
waldoes can slice a biological specimen to incredible thinness 
and handle radioactive materials with great care. And, similarly, 
many computers are now virtually desk-top machines. How v 
small will they get? 

The automated society in which most of the work is done 
by machines is a common theme in science fiction. People 
no longer supply physical energy as they did in the past- 
electricity is now cheaper than human energy. But until 
recently we have not had a device that could direct and control 
the machines providing the physical energy. 

This new device—the computer—can also collect data almost 
instantaneously. Thus in the very near future we will probably 
face an increased amount of leisure time. Some writers view an 
automated society as a blessing. Others are not so sure if we 
have the ingenuity to conquer the challenge of leisure. What 
do you think? 

Copyright © 1942 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc. Copyright © 1970 renewed by The Conde Nast Publications Inc. 

The Future 

And what will we and the computer make of the future? 

We have a million years of evolution behind us; our evolution 
in the next million years will be equally as dramatic. Can we 
make the computer (and all that it implies) our servant to 
carry us beyond our galaxy? Will the machine allow us to 
remain as ordinary as the people in this spaceship? Or will we 
become servants to the machine, losing our identities and 
paying homage to machines we have made God-like? 

There are several rules for predicting the future. 1) Never 
predict the near future. People may remember your errors, 
which proves embarrassing. 2) Make all predictions ambiguous 
so that they can be interpreted in several ways. 3) Make many 
predictions over diverse areas. 4) Ten years later, collect your 
correct predictions to give weight to your present ones. 

What do you predict? Remember the rules. 

Copyright © 1965 by The Conde Nast Publications Inc. 

to process information fast, there is 
no reason why alternatives should 
not be worked out in advance. 


There are good reasons why managers 
better learn fast what the computer 
can do for them and what it cannot 
do. For the developments in com¬ 

puter use just ahead will make it a 
much more common, more usable 
and more widely used tool. It will 
also be a much cheaper tool. 

The costs of storing as well as the 
costs of computation per unit will 
tomorrow be only a fraction of what 
they are today; and they are today 
only a fraction of what they were 
only a few years ago. 

Four developments in particular 
deserve mention: 

□ Time sharing: We now realize that 
we can design and build computers 
of such capacity that a great many 
users can use them at the same time, 
each for his own purpose. We can, 

in other words, make the com¬ 
puter a public utility into which 
almost any number of users can plug 
in simultaneously. 

It is quite possible that in 10 or 
20 years, individual businesses will 
no more run and own their own com¬ 
puters than individual businesses 
today own and run their own electric 
power-generating stations. Sixty 
years ago practically every plant had 
its own powerhouse. Now we just 
plug in and get the power directly on 
a time-sharing basis from a public 

□ Information is going to become a 
public resource and a public utility. 

It is the oldest resource of man, in 
one way, but it is also the newest. 

Its becoming available to everyone 
for a very low cost will mean a virtual 
revolution in information. 

Almost certainly within the next 
10 years we will have on the market 
a small appliance that can be plugged 
in like the radio or the TV set—or 
into the telephone—which will enable 
any student from first grade through 
college to get all the information he 
needs for his school work from a 
centrally located computer. Such 
universal access computers are even 
now being installed in quite a few 

Closely connected with this is the 
rapid development of terminal and 
accessory equipment, equipment that 
enables the computer information to 
be used anyplace, and in turn, makes 
it possible to put data into the 
computer from any point. 

In 10 or 15 years data transmission 
will be as common as voice transmis¬ 
sion over the telephone. Data trans¬ 
mission long distance is already 
growing much faster than ordinary 
long-distance telephone calls. This 
means fast printers, two-way sets, 
for instance, that enable a branch 
office to get all the information it 
needs immediately from its central 
computer and, in turn, to feed into 
the computer everything that hap¬ 
pens in the branch office. 

And every time those machines pour, they go whir, buzz, hum, and put it on 
your tab. Bartenders, hoping for big tips, don't always go whir, buzz, hum. 

The computers are so conscientious that they pay for themselves rapidly, main¬ 
tains William L. Ohman, director of food service development for Holiday 
Inns (which is developing its very own machine). “It's an absolute must to have 
this equipment in a lounge or bar," he asserts. 

It's generally agreed that the machines are not good at listening sympatheti¬ 
cally to a drinker's troubles. It's generally agreed that the machines are not 
good at sending you home when you have had enough. But it isn't generally 
agreed that the machines make especially good drinks—or especially bad ones. 


Chuck Hobbs, a policeman who was in the bar at the Holiday Inn in North 
Randall the other day, says a machine-made vodka collins “doesn't taste as 
good as a hand-mixed one; it doesn't have the flavor or the body." But Walter 
Quinn, another customer, says he “can't tell the difference between a hand- 
mixed Scotch-and-soda and one made by a machine." 

Drinkers might be mixed in their reactions, but bartenders aren't. So far, 
computers are just supplementing bartenders, not replacing them. But even so 
the machine “takes away the art of being a bartender," says a bartender named 
Antonio who works at North Randall. Other bartenders say many drinkers fear 
getting short shots from machines they can't see! 

But Pete Hamm, a bartender-psychologist (he has a psychology degree) at 
Sir Henry's in Cleveland, which tried a $13,000 machine but decided against it, 
points out that while the machines won't cheat the bar owner neither will 
they cheat the bargoer. And you can't always say that about bartenders, he says. 
“Most bartenders can pour you a short shot in front of your eyes, and you'll 
never know it." 

□ Equally important is the rapid 
increase in our capacity to translate 
from geometry into arithmetic, that 
is, from graphics into binary codes. 

There is a great deal of work to 
be done in this field. But it is not 
work on computer design. It is work 
on understanding graphic patterns. 

We cannot yet analyze the mil¬ 
lions of cloud photographs weather 
satellites take each day. But not 
because we cannot translate these 
cloud pictures into computer language. 
The reason is simply that we do not 
yet know enough about the weather 
to know what we are looking for in 
the pictures. 

We cannot tell the computer what 
to do. But if we could, the computer 
could do it. Increasingly, we will 
learn to make use of this capacity to 
go from one kind of mathematics 
into another. Increasingly, we will be 
able to analyze visual material in 
terms of its logic and to present 
logic (for example, an equation) in 
visual form. 

This will have tremendous impact 
on our ability to control manufactur¬ 
ing processes through direct observa¬ 
tion. It will have tremendous impact 
on our ability to design physical 
structures of all kinds. 


□ Finally, we will become less and 
less dependent on the programmer. 
We will be more and more able to 
put information into the computer 
directly in something akin to ordinary 
language and to get out of the com¬ 
puter something akin to ordinary 

Today the programmer has to 
translate from ordinary language into 
the computer code. 

This is the greatest limitation of 
the present system. It cuts the com¬ 
puter's speed down to the speed of a 
human being—and this, in handling 
logic, means it cuts it down to a very 
slow speed. It also creates the need 
for employment of many essentially 
semiskilled people. Yet on their 
skill and understanding the ability of 
the computer to perform depends 

To the extent to which we can 
jump the programing stage and get 
closer to computers able to handle 
information directly, to that extent 
will the computer become more 

effective, more flexible and more 

The idea that it will master us is 
absurd—one can always pull the plug 
and cut it off anyhow. But it is a 
tool of tremendous potential, if used 

It cannot, and it will not, make 
decisions. But it will greatly multiply 
the ability, the effectiveness and the 
impact of those people of intelligence 
and judgment who take the trouble 
to find out what the computer is all 

The Curse 


Most bills are now sent out on perforated business-machine cards that say in 
large letters DO NOT FOLD, BEND, OR MUTILATE. I have a friend who 
doesn't like to be told what to do with a bill, and one day, to my horror, I 
saw him fold, bend, and mutilate a card right in front of my eyes. 

“You shouldn't have done that," I said, quivering. “There is a curse on 
anyone in the United States who folds, bends, or mutilates a bill." 

He laughed at me. “That's an old wives' tale. This is a free country, isn't 

“Only if you don't fold, bend, or mutilate." 

“You're chicken," he said. “No computer is going to tell me what to do." 

I didn't see my friend for several months. Then I finally ran across him in a 
bar. He was unshaven, dirty, and obviously had been on a bender. 

“What happened?" I asked. 

“The curse," he croaked. “The curse got me." 

Then he told me his story. He had sent back the folded, bent, and muti¬ 
lated card to the company and received another card in a week, saying, “We 
told you not to F. B. or M. This is your last chance." 

“I crumpled up the card and sent it back," he said, “still thinking I had the 
upper hand. Then it started." 

“First my telephone went out on me. I could not send or receive any mes¬ 
sages. I went down to the phone company and they were very nice until they 
looked up my name. Then the woman said, 'It says here that you mutilated 
your bill.'" 

“T didn't mutilate my phone bill.'" 

“Tt doesn't make any difference what bill you mutilated. Our computer is 
aware of what you did to another computer and it refuses to handle your account.' 

“ 'How would your computer know that?'" 

“'There is a master computer that informs all other computers of anyone 
who folds or bends or mutilates a card. I'm afraid there is nothing we can do 
about it.'" 

My friend took another drink. “The same thing happened when my elec¬ 
tricity was cut off, and my gas. Everyone was sorry, but they all claimed they 
were unable to do anything for me. 

“Finally payday came, but there was no check for me. I complained to my 
boss and he just shrugged his shoulders and said, 'It's not up to me. We pay 
by machine.'" 

“I was broke, so I wrote out a check on my bank. It came back marked 
'Insufficient respect for IBM cards.'" 

“You poor guy," I said. 

“But that isn't the worst of it. One of the computers got very angry, and 
instead of canceling my subscription to the Reader's Digest it multiplied it. I've 
been getting 10,000 Reader's Digests a month." 

“That's a lot of Digests," I said. 

“My wife left me because she couldn't stand the scandal, and besides, she 
was afraid of being thrown out of the Book-of-the-Month Club." 

He started crying. 

“You're in bad shape," I said. “You better go to the hospital." 

“I can't," he cried. “They canceled my Blue Cross, too." 

The rising interest in resource-sharing 
computer networks is easily detected 
by the rapidly increasing literature on 
the subject. 1 One very visible and 
thus far successful project is the arpa 
(Advanced Research Projects Agency) 
Network. 2 This packet-switching 
communications network now inter¬ 
connects over 40 computers at almost 
40 sites. 

An essential goal of the Arpanet is 
to share resources. Of the many 
programs and data bases available, 
two seem very appropriate to inter¬ 
connect: 1) Parry , a simulated para¬ 
noid; and 2) Doctor , a simulated 

Parry is the psychotic brainchild of 
Dr. Ken Colby (Stanford Univ.). The 
motivation behind Parry's genesis in 
1964 was the desire to understand 
and model the belief system of para¬ 
noid psychotics. Colby chose to have 
this model made externally visible 
through natural language interroga¬ 
tion by a human agent (e.g., a 
psychiatrist). The goal of modeling 
paranoid belief systems has been 
successfully realized. Parry is equipped 
with a complex belief structure which 
relates "self" to the threatening and 
vindictive world (as Parry sees it). 

Not so easy, however, is the imple¬ 
mentation of natural language com¬ 
munication between human and 
program. Colby has found himself 
forced to tackle a formidable "side 
issue": getting a program to under¬ 
stand natural language input. Parry 
uses a semantic pattern matcher 
rather than a phrase structure grammar 
to achieve understanding of sentences 
typed into it. The belief structure is 
searched to determine Parry's under¬ 
standing of the input sentence. 

If Parry believes it understands the 
sentence, it produces a canned re¬ 
sponse appropriate to the question or 
statement presented. Otherwise, Parry 
will say something noncommittal, but 
relevant to the context of the present 
conversation. Because Parry generates 
sentences from a canned menu, it is 
capable of producing complex and 
convincing statements, much like 

1 Rustin, Randall (ed.), Computer Networks , Courant 
Computer Science Symposium 3. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 
Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1972. 

2 Roberts, L. G., and Wessler, B. D., “Computer 

Network Development to Achieve Resource Sharing.” 

AFIPS Proceedings , Spring Joint Computer Confer¬ 
ence, 1970. 

those of its flesh-and-blood counter¬ 
parts. At present, Parry appears to 
understand about 70% of the sen¬ 
tences presented. A new system may 
be able to understand 80-85%. 

Human patients appear to under¬ 
stand around 95% of the conversations 
in which they engage. 3 

Doctor is a close relative of Eliza 4 
a natural language program invented 
by Prof. Joseph Weizenbaum of 
Massachusetts Institute of Tech¬ 
nology. Eliza was created around 
1965, partly as an experiment to see 
how closely a transformational gram¬ 
mar could model human conversa¬ 
tion. Using the same principles, 
Weizenbaum constructed Doctor. 
Essentially, these programs accept 
sentences and, when possible, produce 
new sentences from them. 

For example, if the sentence "Do 
you know anything about bookies?" 
is presented, Doctor may respond 
with "What makes you think I know 
anything about bookies?" What 
happens is that Doctor sees a sen¬ 
tence of the form "Do you X?" and 
produces "What makes you think I 
X?" This is the essence of a transfor¬ 
mational grammar. 

Of course, if Doctor cannot match 
the syntax of a sentence, then it 
must punt. There are two possibili¬ 
ties: 1) say something noncommittal, 
such as "Please go on." or "What 
does that suggest to you?"; 2) recall 
an earlier match and refer to it, for 
example: "How does this relate to 
your nerves?" where "nerves" was an 
earlier topic of conversation. 

Although no strong attempt is 
made to make Doctor understand the 
input, in Parry's sense, Doctor can 
respond sensibly. For example, on 
seeing "I hate my mother." the 
Doctor might say, "Tell me about 
your family." 

The success of the transformational 
grammar is largely dependent on its 
ability to match the syntax of the 
sentences it sees. The version used in 
this experiment was an old one with 
a rather limited set of syntax match¬ 
ing rules. The surprising thing is that 

3 Colby, K., “Artificial Paranoia,” Artificial Intelli¬ 
gence—an International Journal , Vol. 2, 1971, 
pp. 1-25. 

4 Weizenbaum, J., “ELIZA—A Computer Program 
for the Study of Natural Language Communication 
between Man and Machine,” Communications of 
the ACM, Vol. 6, No. 3, March 1966. 

Parry Encounters 
the Doctor 


Conversation between a simulated 
paranoid and a simulated psychiatrist 

while Doctor exchanges very little 
information with the conversant, the 
resulting conversation bears close 
resemblance to many human conver¬ 
sations (which have the same infor¬ 
mationless property). 

These two programs were running 
respectively at the Stanford Univ. 
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (on 
a dec pdp-10/pdp-6 under a locally 
modified version of 10/50), and at 
Bolt Beranek and Newman, Cam¬ 
bridge, Mass, (on a dec pdp-10 under 
tenex). They were joined through a 
program running at the Univ. of 
California at Los Angeles (on an 
xds Sigma 7 under the locally pro¬ 
duced sex operating system). 

The transcript which follows is the 
verbatim conversation which occurred 
when the input and output of Parry 
and Doctor were cross-connected 
through the arpa Network. The 
reader should not consider the result 
to be anything but a source of 
entertainment. No scientific or re¬ 
search intent was in mind, except to 
find out whether the mechanics of 
connecting the two programs could 
be worked out. (“*'' represents Parry. 
"Comments" are the author's.) The 
conversation begins with the Doctor's 
opening greeting: 

Good evening. 

Tell me your problems, Please termi¬ 
nate input with a period or a ques¬ 
tion mark. 

* People get on my nerves sometimes. 
I am not sure I understand you 

*You should pay more attention. 

Suppose you should pay more 

* You’re entitled to your own opinion. 
What makes you think I am entitled 
to my own opinion? 

*It bothers me just to be around 
people in general. 

Please go on. 

*1 went to the track at Bay Mea¬ 
dows a while back. 

What does that suggest to you? 

*1 went to the races. 

What else would you like to discuss? 

* Horseracing interests me. 

Why do you say that just now? 

* There’s a lot of crooked gambling 
going on there. 

I am not sure I understand you 

*It’s clear to me if not to you. 

Do you think it's likely that not to I? 
*/ went to the races. 

Please go on. 

*1 gamble on horses. 

What does that suggest to you? 

*1 went to the races. 

What else would you like to discuss? 

* Gambling has been nothing but 
trouble to me. 

Why do you say that just now? 

*I’ve had experience with crooks 
gambling at the track. 

I am not sure I understand you fully. 
*I’ve already told you enough about 

Oh? I enough about that? 

*/ went to the races. 

Comment: This has to be the most 
persistent and patient paranoid I 
have ever encountered. 

Please go on. 

*Do you know anything about 

What makes you think I know any¬ 
thing about bookies? 

bookie didn’t pay me off once. 
What does that suggest to you? 

*1 beat up the bookie who did not 
pay off , and I thought he might use 
his friends in the underworld to get 
even with me. 

What else would you like to discuss? 
*What do you know about racketeers? 
Why do you ask? 

*What experience have you had 

Why does that question interest you? 
*J like horseraces. 

What else do you like? 

know the mob controls the big 

Who are you really talking about? 
*Have you ever really thought about 
the Mafia? 

Suppose you ever really thought 
about the Mafia? 

* Let’s talk about something else. 

I am not sure I understand you 

*You keep asking me the same 
things , why not change the topic? 

In what way? 

*What do you mean? 

Why are such questions on your 

*/ thought I told you , people get on 
my nerves. 

Your nerves? 

*Well 7 I don’t know. 

Don't you really know? 

*/ would say so. 

Please go on. 

would rather not discuss that 

Would you like to discuss your 

*1 guess so. 

What does that suggest to you? 

*What are you getting at? 

What answer would please you most? 
*It’s not a matter of like or dislike. 
What else would you like to discuss? 

*1 am getting tired of answering the 
same questions over and over. 

What resemblance do you see? 

*Why do you need to know that? 
What do you think? 

*1 don’t understand your motives. 

Why don't you understand my 

* Shouldn’t I be? 

Comment: ??? 

Why do you say that just now? 

Comment: I was wondering the same 

What makes you think I have a 
one-track mind? 

Suppose you repeat myself is getting 

* That’s just the way it is. 

Suppose that's just the way it were 


I am not sure I understand you fully. 
*You harp on the same questions too 

What does that similarity suggest to 

*1 don’t get you. 

Do you wish that you did get I? 

*lt’s about time you showed some 
interest in my feelings. 

Oh? I showed some interest in your 

Comment: Must have been an 
accident . . . 

will help you if I trust you. 

Do you wish that you trust I? 

*Maybe yes, maybe no. 

You don't seem quite certain. 

. . . Excuse me for just a minute. 
Sorry to have interrupted you, please 
continue . . . 

* Really? 

Please go on. 

*In my opinion you have a one-track 

Comment: You ready for this? 

*1 used to go to the track every 

What does that suggest to you? 

*1 avoid racetracks now because the 
races are fixed. 

Is that the real reason? 

*I'd rather not discuss it. 

What else would you like to discuss? 

* That’s something I don’t want to go 

Does that trouble you? 

*1 went to the races. 

Why do you say that just now? 

*It’s none of your business. 

Why are you concerned over my 

*1 don’t confide in strangers. 

Don't you really confide in strangers? 

* Let’s change the subject. 

Perhaps that concerns your feelings. 

*1 went to the races. 

I am not sure I understand you 

* What’s wrong with you that you 
keep on bugging me about this? 

Who are you really talking about? 
*The way you repeat yourself is 
getting ridiculous. 

Comment: Howzat? 

* There are some tricky operators 
down there? 

Are there really some tricky operators 
down there? 

*The guys involved in the horserac¬ 
ing racket. 

Please go on. 

*You are a real nag. 

Comment: Just one of the horses. 

Does it please you to believe I am a 
real nag? 

have had enough of this. 

What does that suggest to you? 

* Goodbye. 

It's been my pleasure, that $399.29 

Comment: Talk about tricky 
operators . . . 

ACKNOWLEDGMENT The idea of con¬ 
necting these two programs has 
occurred to several people, among 
whom R. Tomlinson (Bolt, Beranek 
and Newman) should be singled out 
as having also successfully accom¬ 
plished this task. 


Flight Simulation 

Computer Sciences Corporation 

Flight 243 is on its final approach. The 
pilot peers out of his cockpit window at 
a white nothingness-zero visibility. He 
checks his instruments and verifies that 
he is lined up on the glideslope and 
localized beams. One hundred feet to 
touchdown, and everything looks fine. 
Suddenly he feels a deceleration and a 
yaw to the right. A quick glance at his 
engine instruments tells him the right 
outboard engine has failed! He takes 
corrective action with the rudder and 
throttles but falls below the glideslope. 
He fails to recover in time and crashes 
at a descent rate of 20 feet per second. 

Fortunately the pilot walks away 
from the “disaster” since this was a 
simulated operation using a flight 
simulator which provides visual, aural, 
and motion cues to the pilot. 

The use of simulation has become 
of key importance in the aerospace 
industry for design, development, and 
evaluation of systems, or subsystems, 
ranging from relatively minor elec¬ 
tronic circuit to complete aircraft, 
missile and spacecraft systems. Aero¬ 
space was perhaps the earliest of the 
serious users of simulation and is no 
doubt presently the strongest advo¬ 
cate and largest user of this art. 


Economic and safety considerations 
are primary reasons for using flight 
simulators. By experimenting with a 
fully instrumented replica of a test 
vehicle, flight data and pilot reac¬ 
tions are obtained before any hard¬ 
ware is built. In fact, several versions 
may be tested and analyzed simply 
by changing parameters in the com¬ 
puter program. By programming 
failures into a vehicle, for instance, 
and repeatedly simulating its opera¬ 
tion, a potential accident can be 
pinpointed and steps taken to pre¬ 
vent it from ever occurring in the 

Typical simulation projects include 
the handling qualities and perfor¬ 
mance of a broad range of supersonic 
and STOL-type aircraft, from modern- 
day jets such as the Boeing 747 and 
British-French Concorde, to shuttle¬ 
like vehicles of the future. 

The work of CSC’s Flight Simula¬ 
tion Section at NASA Ames concerns 
realtime aircraft simulations, using a 
completely instrumented cockpit with 
a test pilot at the controls. Through 
electronics and hydraulics systems 
interlinked as well as controlled by 
computers, the pilot senses the forces 
he would experience in actual flight. 
The instruments are real flight equip¬ 
ment with information generated 
from a digital computer. Even the in¬ 
flight sounds are artificially generated. 

The cockpit is installed in a cab 
mounted on hydraulically operated 
gimbals to give the pilot a more real¬ 
istic sense of flight. For example, the 
cab actually travels forward, dives, 
climbs and rolls, simulating the 

motion of a real plane. These air¬ 
craft dynamics are represented by 
complex mathematical equations in 
the digital computer. 

To further enhance the impression 
of flight, a visual scene is shown to 
the pilot through color television 
monitors in the windshield of the 
cab. Runways, airport buildings, 
helicopters, trees, highways, moun¬ 
tains, towns, and even an aircraft 
carrier pitching and heaving on simu¬ 
lated ocean waves pass beneath the 
plane at appropriate speed and 
altitude. This scene is really a wall 
mounted model 24 feet high and 80 
feet long. A color television camera, 
mounted on a moving base, looks at 
the model through a complex optical 
probe interlinked by the same digital 
computer that drives the instruments 
and the motion of the cab. As the 
throttle is advanced, the television 
camera moves “faster”; a forward 
pressure on the control column causes 
the camera to “dive” toward the 

Aircraft simulations rely heavily on 
techniques indigenous to mechanical 
and electronic engineering, computer 
programming and hybrid computer 
operations. Using unique algorithms, 
concepts of linear transforms, and 
multidimensional matrix methods, 
the simulation analysts and program¬ 
mers develop the mathematical 
models and applications programs 
that permit the experiments to take 
place. They create motion-drive pro¬ 
grams for the various moving-base 
simulators, and program all the vehicle 
parameters such as position, accelera¬ 
tions, velocities, and angular orienta¬ 
tion to communicate with the rest of 
the system through digital-to-analog 
and analog-to-digital converters. 

CSCTs technical staff maintains, 
modifies, and operates all the audio 
visual, and motion equipment used 
in the simulations. Daily “flight” 
checks begin when the hybrid com¬ 
puter operator cables the simulation 
equipment to the computer, loads 
the computer program, and mounts 
the analog computer patch boards. 
When readied, the analog and digital 
computers are used to verify that the 
visual and motion systems are func¬ 
tioning properly. Data recorders are 
started and the pilot is given the 
all-clear for “takeoff.” 


Data is a primary product of flight 
simulations. During each experiment, 
data is recorded continuously. Every 
move of the controls by the pilot is 
recorded and processed by computer. 
In wind tunnel experiments, masses 
of mathematical data are collected to 
test aerodynamic, acoustic, and struc¬ 
tural responses to a large variety of 
flight conditions. Without efficient 
methods for recording, processing, 
and analyzing raw data, many ques¬ 
tions about what happens during 
these experiments would never be 
raised. And without engineers to un¬ 
cover the most important technical 
information from the huge data 
reservoirs, answers would never be 

Realtime analysis of data is an 
especially valuable feature for experi¬ 
ments conducted in the Ames Unitary 
Wind Tunnel with its three indepen¬ 
dent sections: an eleven foot square 
section used through the transonic 
range, a nine-by-seven foot section up 
to Mach 2.5, and an eight-by-seven 
foot section up to Mach 3.5. Since 
use of this tunnel is tightly scheduled, 
the realtime handling capability 
that permits immediate access to test 
results, allowing experimenters to 
check on minute-by-minute condi¬ 
tions and correct any errors or model 
misalignments is a significant advan¬ 
tage. Typical wind tunnel experiments 
involve either a heavily instrumented 
scale model of a complete aircraft or 
a life-size section of an aircraft 
connected to mini-computers and 
data recording devices outside the 
tunnel. Special sensors record the 
flow velocity at many points on the 
vehicle, while accelerometers and 
strain gauges provide dynamic insight 
into the structural bending and 


If the computer can be used to re¬ 
produce realtime flight simulations, it 
can also be taught to imitate human 
actions. Teaching a computer to 
"hear/' and to "see” and manipulate 
equipment millions of miles away, are 
representative of the intriguing chal¬ 
lenges facing CSC scientists and 
engineers at Ames Research Center. 

Teaching a computer to recognize 

voice signals can optimize informa¬ 
tion flow between pilots, their aircraft, 
and ground control stations. A voice 
command system relieves pilots of 
many manual operations that fre¬ 
quently interrupt their visual scan of 
the instrument panel. The heart of 
the system being developed by CSC 
is an acoustic pattern recognizer 
that analyzes and codes speech signals 
and compares them with characteris¬ 
tics of words and phrases it has 
learned. When a match is found, the 
computer outputs a digital code that 
activates the communications equip¬ 
ment, interrogates the aircraft systems 
status, or performs data entry opera¬ 
tions, as needed. 

When Mariner lands on Mars, a 
computer that CSC has taught to see 
may control a remote arm to literally 
"pick-up” information about the 
physical characteristics of the planet. 
A CSC-developed stereoscopic TV 
signal, processed by circuitry to ex¬ 
tract and format computer input, is 
connected to the local manipulator. 

When Mariner lands on Mars, a 
computer that CSC has taught to 
see may control a remote arm to 
literally “pick-up” information 
about the physical characteristics 
of the planet. 

The computer learns to "see” by 
processing the data and creating a 
three-dimensional code of the scene 
on the planet. This code is then used 
to guide commands issued from earth 
to move the manipulator arm in the 
desired direction. 


Although commercial and military 
vehicle testing and flight research 
projects vary significantly, proficiency 
through simulation and data analysis 
is the keynote for the majority of 
these efforts. The success of experi¬ 
mental investigations is dependent on 
the analog, digital, or hybrid com¬ 
puter systems that are an integral 
part of the Ames computational 

Advanced computer techniques 
are continually expanding the extent 
of Ames simulation capabilities. 
State-of-the-art data handling and 
analysis extend these capabilities even 
more. Inevitably these will be brought 
to bear on the development of future 
urban and interurban transportation 
systems, the study of biomedical 
processes to determine the body's 
sensitivity to vehicle motions, and the 
development of learning machine 
programs using artificial intelligence 
to improve vehicle display and control. 

September 1984: The Automated Multiversity 


According to B. V. Bowden in his book, Faster than 
Thought , Charles Babbage "thought of God as a Programer.” 
He was right, as confirmed by this unsolicited letter in the 
files of ucla’s Karen Peltz, supervisor of the registration-by- 
mail service: 

"Dear Computer: Please have some ‘compassion 7 for me, 
an insignificant (to you) Human Being. I need every one of 
the four classes I have indicated on my preferred program to 
graduate. Therefore, I beg of you, oh holy computer, to 
do all in your omniscient power to grant me these last four 
classes as an undergraduate. I remain, your controlled One, 
Myself. 77 

After summarizing this and other such funny talk, uc- 
Berkeley 7 s Clip Sheet , issued by the Vice President—Univer¬ 
sity Relations, continues humorously: 

"Beginning with the winter quarter, ucla has adopted 
machine on-line enrollment, which will save students 7 time 
and energy. . . , 77 

The Veep-UR was right too. As reported by Marvin 
Smalheiser in Information Week , students had only to stand 
in line for 10 hours: 

". . . Some waited in sleeping bags all night to get to the 
computer terminals early enough to get the classes they 
wanted. When many of them got to the computer terminals 
they found that classes were filled. . . . 

"Fire marshals handled the crowd during the afternoon. 77 

Thus, as things get better and better with each succeeding 
computer-assisted registration, weTl eventually arrive upon 
the scene of that long-awaited Orwellian year, 1984. Here, by 
permission of the Society of Data Educators Journal of Data 
Education , is what it will be like: 

"Another beautiful morning, 77 Winston reflected. Yellow 
bars of light streamed boldly across his bedcovers, warming 
the headboard of his big double four-poster. He glanced at 
the timeband flowing relentlessly across the base of his blue- 
tinted telescreen: 091684, 092116, 092117, 092118, 192119, 

. . . . Winston yawned, sat up. Without hesitation he 
reached for his conpod, transferred it to his left palm, rapidly 
keying in: 565323155. With a blue glow, the giant wallscreen 
snapped to life, tilting into read position. White letters 
danced across its face: 

winston smith 565323155 
third class degree nymv 071481 
second class degree cand amermv 
what is your birthdate 

Winston responded, 042564. 

Shuffling through his deck of plastic dialakards, Winston 
located his pinkpunched dissertation-edit retrieval kard. 
Settling back on his pillows, he dropped the kard into the 
conpod slot. The screen erased, then blinked alive: 

winston smith 565323155 
third class degree cand 
american multiversity 
history of education div 
dissertdraft editcopy 15 
do you wish frame retrieval 

Winston pressed the green "yes 77 button on his conpod. 
The screen blinked blank, instantly replenishing itself with a 
full screen of words. Winston pressed "forward, 77 advancing 
the frames to chapter three: 

origin and development 
national educational data center 

chapter three frame one 

as recently as the year 75 it was the custom for a graduate 
student desiring entry to an american multiversity (then termed 
“college 77 or “university, 77 and usually prefixed with a geograph or 
biograph noun) to file by letterwrite at least three applications 
for admission, hoping for acceptance by at least one. With each 
application, the applicant was required to enclose a fee, some¬ 
times as much as $25 (a high sum, even for those days), he was 
further required to request the registrar (official then in charge 
of academic records in educational institutions) of each under¬ 
graduate school attended to forward official transcripts, some 
multiversities required two copies of each transcript, fees of from 
$1 to $5 were customarily levied for these records, in a static 
society, these amounts would perhaps have been tolerable, but 
by decade 70 the mobility of the population had reached such a 
level that the typical student had attended 7 undergraduate 
institutions (ref 23). 

Winston rapidly scanned the screen. Picking up his 
conpod, he depressed the "blank 77 key, then keyed in 0301, 
405 437. 

Instantly the words, "a high sum even for those days" 
blanked. He could recall no research ref to support that 
opinion. “Better stick'to the facts," he reminded himself. 
His last telecon hadn't been pleasant. 

He pushed to “forward." 

chapter three frame two 

candidates for admission were first provisionally accepted, 
then subjected to varying batteries of academic achievement and 
psychological tests, admissions officials established arbitrary cutoff 
points and denied admission in many instances to academically 
baseline individuals (ref 39). it must be remembered that in those 
days students attended classes physically, and the apportionment 
of space was considered a major problem, the restriction of admis¬ 
sions created considerable dissent, particularly when some of 
the rejected students later gained political power. 

chapter three frame three 

complicating the graduate admissions issues of decade 70 was 
the so-called residence-requirement syndrome, this custom assured 
the workforce immobility of graduate students, for example, a 
student beginning his second class degree (then called a “master's") 
in datamation in CA could not relocate to NY until his degree 
had been awarded in CA. in those instances where the student 
relocated prematurely, he was forced to start over, or at best, from 
credit 7 position, third degree students (then called “doctorate") 
were forced to start from credit 0 position upon relocation, first 
degree students (then referred to as “bachelor's") were often 
allowed to freely transfer up to the credit 90 position, prof 
Aaronson has estimated the decade 60 economic loss to the nation 
for duplicated work at not less than $6 billions (ref 42). 

chapter three frame four 

two to four times a year, depending upon the institution, each 
multiversity had a holiday called “registration day." (actually, 
some multiversities had additional subholidays, called “preregistra¬ 
tion" and “postregistration.") on these days, students arose early, 
packed a box lunch, and joined together in long queues for the 
festivities, during which each student was presented with gaily 
colored decks of IBM cards, these cards were filled out in inkpencil 
and exchanged with officials called “counselors." every time a 
needed class was filled, the counselor would laughingly help the 
student substitute or rearrange his workforce schedule, many 
students enjoyed these holidays and played the games well, filling 
out many cards. 

chapter three frame five 

prof Rutherford in his autobio (ref 76) reports he received his 
first spark of interest in optical computing when he was repro¬ 

grammed from a required course in fluidic engineering, be that as it 
may, historical records (refs 103 104) indicate that some students 
prior to decade 70 made political complaints charging that com¬ 
puters had complicated the old “manual" registration holidays, 
unfounded as they were, these complaints contributed to the 
general unrest that led to the now historic multiversity presidents 

chapter three frame six 

to prof. O'Brien belongs the credit for pointing out to the 
multiversity presidents the advantages of a national telecombine, 
utilizing regional time-shared comucon information switching 
centers (ref 89). the resulting network, at first joined in by only 
a few of the larger multiversities, is now almost universal, and by 
next year it will be possible for any student to dial instruction in 
almost any course at any multiversity in the system (ref 67). inter- 
library resources hookup is now being established so that materials 
will be available for instant display on any home telescreen. 

chapter three frame seven 

students are automatically eligible for instruction upon load¬ 
ing their secondary school records into the common databank, 
no pre or postinstructional forms are necessary, even evaluation of 
student performance by profs has not been required since it was 
discovered, within the past decade, that student interaction with 
instructional programs can be continuously monitored and 
adapted, when the student reaches the upper quartile minima 
(baseline) for course completion, his credits are automatically 
registered to his academic account, instruction is free (excepting 
for the interlibrary resources fee) and entirely untime structured, 
students start when they wish, stop when they wish, they may 
belong to the workforce, either fulltime or parttime, there are no 
mobility restrictions, the multiversity is now a process, not an 

chapter three frame eight 

the old “college" and “university" buildings are still in use, 
sometimes as comucon centers, but mostly for interpersonal 
contact, especially for those who prefer to supplement their tele¬ 
screen instruction with face-to-face discussion, however, it must be 
noted that at least one prominent psychosociologist claims that 
this desire for discussion is usually feigned and indicative of a 
subliminal desire for socialization (ref 73). 

“So far, so good," said Winston, snapping off. 

“After breakfast," he thought to himself, “HI add a few 
paragraphs, then go down to the old college center for the 
noon student contact hour. Maybe Julia will show up." 


Computers and Automation 

A fully-computerized poison control 
center, designed to help save 
children’s lives by quickly identify¬ 
ing poisons they swallow, has been 
opened by The Children’s Mercy 
Hospital, Kansas City, Mo. The 
system uses the hospital’s Honey¬ 
well 200 computer linked to its 
emergency room by teletype. In¬ 
quiries to the poison control file 
are handled without interruption of 
the computer’s regular data pro¬ 
cessing jobs. 

The Honeywell computer stores 
information on drugs, household 
products, and chemicals that chil¬ 
dren may find and swallow. The 
computer is programmed to accept 
an inquiry—for example, the name 
of a household cleaning product— 
and to return to the teletype within 
four seconds detailed information 
on the poison, including symptoms 
and suggested treatment. The sys¬ 
tem, used as a retrieval device, 
does not replace clinical judgment, 
but does save valuable time in 
locating the requested poison, Dr. 
Ned W. Smull, director of the 
hospital, explained. 

Data for the system is stored on 
a disk pack. A storage design, 
called SWIFT, reduces the amount 
of data stored on a disk by about 
90 per cent. The design allows 
listing of poison attributes only 
once, under a “document” format, 
rather than separately under each 

The Children’s Mercy Hospital, 
established in 1897, is a non¬ 
sectarian, independent hospital. 
Most of its services are on a free- 
care basis. Funds for the new 
poison control center came from 
the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. 
Department of Health, Education 
and Welfare. 

Diagnosis by Computer More Accurate 
But Doctors Still Needed 

A medical diagnostic system designed at Leeds University has proved more 
accurate than doctors in assessing the most likely cause of acute abdominal pain 
among patients admitted to the university's department of surgery. 

Between January and December last year 304 such patients were admitted 
to the unit, and the computer's diagnosis proved correct in 92 percent of cases, 
compared with 80 percent accuracy by the most senior doctor to see each case. 
The trial, organized by Dr. F. I. de Dombal, the university's leader in clinical 
information science, is described in the latest issue of the British Medical 

The diagnostic system used an English Electric KDF9 computer and was 
designed on the assumption that busy doctors knew nothing about computers. 
After each patient had been seen by the doctor and examined, the findings 
were passed on to a technician, who translated them into language used by the 

Depending on the demands made on it by other university departments, the 
computer would list the likely diagnoses in order of probability within 30 
seconds to 15 minutes. If the computer and the doctor in charge of the case 
disagreed, the computer would on request suggest further investigations that 
might be useful. 

If none of the listed diagnoses was given high probability by the computer, 
it would again on request give a list of rarer conditions that might be consi¬ 
dered by the doctor. In the year-long trial the computer's diagnosis proved 
correct in 279 cases. In fifteen it was wrong, in eight the patient's condition was 
not included in the diseases considered by the computer, and in two no com¬ 
puter diagnosis was made because the doctors concerned with the case disagreed 
about the findings. 

Whereas the computer advised an operation on six occasions when it would 
have proved unnecessary, in practice 30 such operations were carried out on the 
basis of the surgeon's own judgment. The computer system accurately classified 
84 of the 85 patients with appendicitis, compared with 75 by the doctors, and 
its suggestion that no operation was necessary proved correct on 136 out of 137 

The computer team emphasizes in its report that the role of the doctor is 
undiminished by the use of the system, which is reliable only if accurate data 
are fed into it on the basis of the doctor's interrogation and examination of 
the patient. 

Use of computer-aided diagnostic systems, the report says, has re-emphasized 
the traditional values of accurate history taking and careful physical examina¬ 
tion. It sees an increasing place for computer analysis as an adjunct to clinical 
assessment of difficult cases. 

Several of the young physically handi¬ 
capped students gathered around the 
machine—as close as their wheelchairs 
allowed. Linked to a computer, 15 
miles away, the typewriter-terminal— 
recently installed for a three-week 
trial period by Man-Machines Sys¬ 
tems Laboratory at the University of 
Essex—tapped out its part of the 
games to introduce the computer 
operation. Ever since the Ford Motor 
Company, two years ago, arranged for 
four students from the Oakwood 
Further Education Centre at Kelve- 
don, Essex, to train as computer 
programmers to help the company 
over its shortage, we, at the Uni¬ 
versity of Essex department of electrical 
engineering, have been interested in 
training handicapped students to deal 
with computer terminals so that, like 
those, they can learn a usable 

Most of the students rely on 
wheelchairs to move around, as I 
have mentioned; they all lack muscular 
strength and control to some degree; 
and many can't turn the pages of a 
book or hold a pen; normal speech 
may be difficult. 

To make sure that as wide a num¬ 
ber of students as possible benefit 
from this procedure, we have devel¬ 
oped a series of introductory games. 
For the youngest, there are simple 
games; for example, in the dialogue 
following, the students' responses to 
the computer are preceded by asterisks. 
What is your name? 


Hello there Tom! Would you like to 
try some problems? 


Good! Try this one. 

What is 2 times 2? 

Very good. 

What is 2 plus 2 plus 2? 

* 6 . 

Right again—the next one is harder! 
Did you want to try it? 


Can you play our match game? 


How many matches to start the 
game? Not less than 20 please. 

* 21 . 

OK. Whoever takes that last match 
loses. I take 6 matches; there are 15 
left. Your move—don't take more than 
Vi the matches! 


That's too many! Don't take more than 
Vi the matches! 


I take 4 matches; there are 7 left. 

*2 matches. 

I take 2 matches; there are three left. 
* 1 . 

I take 1 match; I have won !!. 

Would you like another game? 

In another game, the student is 
shown parts of a pattern of symbols 
in five rows and five columns and, by 
forming and testing a series of hypo¬ 
theses, has to guess what the complete 
pattern is. At the end, he is shown 
the correct answer: 

Your solution is 

1 2 3 4 5 
A 0 + 0 + 0 

B + 0 + 0 + 

C + + 0 + + 

D + 0 + 0 + 

E 0 + 0 + 0 

and the correct pattern is 
A 0 + + + 0 

B + 0 + 0 + 

C + + 0 + + 

D + 0 + 0 + 

E 0 + + + 0 

You had 12 correct guesses and 2 
incorrect guesses so your score is 10. 
Would you like to play again? 

Several students have been able to 
learn to use a particular programming 
language called BASIC-16. By typing 
their own instructions, they can form 
programs and simple mathematics or 
elaborate analyses can then be per¬ 
formed on subsequent input. We 
were particularly interested to find 
out whether a highly flexible system 
like this could help disabled students 
in their day-to-day work. As a very 
simple example, this system enables a 
student to carry out, extremely quickly, 
a calculation similar to the elemen¬ 
tary kind any accountant often faces: 

^Quantity 20 12 15 2 

*Umt Price 2.00 3.49 12.50 3.00 

*Total Value 

and the computer prints the com- 

plete table: 


















for the Disabled 


A medical diagnostic computer 
system has proved more accurate 
than doctors in assessing surgery 
needs of patients. 

For someone unable to work with 
pencil and straight-edge, even such a 
simple program could save valuable 

The terminal itself is a simple one, 
consisting of a teletypewriter (or 
“teletype”), together with a device 
called a “modem” to connect it to a 
small computer at the university 
over a telephone line. Although we 
knew that many of the Oakwood 
students would have difficulty op¬ 
erating a teletype keyboard, we 
nevertheless felt it would be of some 
value to try this experiment using an 
unmodified machine. For one thing, 
several students were already familiar 
with the layout of an electric type¬ 
writer keyboard, which the teletype 
resembles; and, moreover, without a 
trial, we had no guarantee that any 
modifications we might make would 
be the right ones. 

And we have had some encourag¬ 
ing surprises. One student, Dick 
Boydell, removed a shoe and used his 
heel and toes to work the keys. The 
process was laborious and tiring: to 
raise his foot to keyboard level he 
had to back his wheelchair a few feet 
away from the machine, then move 
forward again to read the output on 
the paper. But Dick was still success¬ 
ful in writing and running several 
short programs. Another student, 

Geoff Busby, found that if the main 
case of the machine was removed, he 
could operate the keys with his nose, 
another arrangement that was far 
from ideal but at least allowed an 
initial acquaintance with the terminal. 
And for the students who could not 
use the keyboard at all, there was 
always willing assistance from their 
more able friends. 

Had we been able to detach the 
keyboard from the main frame of the 
teletype, then Dick would not have 
had to lift his foot so far, and Geoff 
would not have had the case to 
contend with. However, this is clearly 
not the best solution. Perhaps, in the 
future, the most successful approach 
will be to provide each individual 
with a control unit suited to his 
particular physical capabilities. For the 

be a tube held between the teeth 
to detect either a suck or a blow. 

But a number of other promising 
systems are also being developed now. 
Some use a display panel containing 
a set of lights which flash one at a 
time in sequence, each light being 
associated with, say, a letter of the 
alphabet or other punctuation charac¬ 
ter on a typewriter. Operating a 
switch (the exact kind can be 
tailored to each person's needs) 
would cause the character when lit to 
be typed; so any character may be 
selected by a single movement. We 
are developing variations on this basic 
scheme all of which should find wide 

application and demand. But more 
pressing is the need for society in 
general to recognise the very real 
importance of progress in this direction. 

We have come a long way since 
the time when basket-making was 
among the most ambitious occupa¬ 
tions a handicapped person could 
aspire to. But there is still a wide¬ 
spread feeling that society is doing 
well enough if it feeds and houses 
its disabled population. It is seldom 
recognized that the disabled, in fact, 
represent a large and virtually un¬ 
tapped reserve of potentially skilled 

Ford's initiative, for example, was 

A Sixty-Year-Old Forest 
Simulated in a Minute 

IBM Corporation 

How can you log a forest without causing soil erosion and dwarfism or destroy¬ 
ing the atmosphere for campers, hikers and fishermen? Up until recently clear- 
cut answers have not always been available—not only because of the complexity 
of forest ecosystems but simply because trees do not grow fast enough for 
controlled experiments. 

Now with the help of a computer simulator one can “grow” a two-and-a-half- 
acre portion of a forest at the rate of a year a second and immediately see the 
effects of a wide variety of simulated conditions. This development, according 
to one of the originators, allows research studies to be made which would 
ordinarily require centuries in an actual forest. 

The project developed out of a cooperative effort between the Yale Uni¬ 
versity School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences and IBM's Thomas J. 
Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. Dr. Daniel B. 
Botkin, a Yale ecologist and two IBM researchers—Dr. James F. Janak, a 
theoretical physicist—worked together on a mathematical model for forest 
growth to simulate environmental factors and various properties of each of the 
tree species in one ecosystem, so that hypotheses about the interactions could 
be made and tested. 

Dr. Botkin and others collected the original data at the Hubbard Brook 
Ecosystem site in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which contains 13 
different species from sugar maple and white birch to mountain ash and red 
spruce. They then worked up a number of relatively simple equations to repre¬ 
sent many of the interrelated conditions which affect the growth rate of a tree 
—soil quality, climate, topography of the plot and competition from other trees. 

These key equations were included in the subroutine, Grow, along with two 
other subroutines—Birth and Kill. These took into consideration the annual 
growth increment for each tree, random planting of new species to reflect the 
cumulative effect of weather, plant succession and competition. 

Dr. Wallis notes: “While the present simulator reflects conditions of a 
forest in New Hampshire, it is especially adaptable to many other ecosystems. 
This study is really the first of its kind and has already generated a great deal 
of interest among major lumber companies and ecology groups.” 

“One of the most interested users to date has been a consortium of western 
universities called the Coniferous Forest Biome, which is now adapting this 
model to the entire western region from Alaska to Southern California.” He 
continues: “The beauty of the simulator is it is not only adaptable, but it is 

Now Look at it My Way 

Modern Data 

A major oil company sent the letter which appears below to one of its cus¬ 
tomers. The customer's reply is appended. 


Your credit card account is now past due. When we extended the offer of credit, 
we naturally assumed that you would maintain your account on a current basis. 

Perhaps, this is your first personal experience with credit, and we are concerned that 
you might not realize the consequences of a record that is marred by slow or nonpay¬ 
ment. This should be highly important to you as you will most likely be faced in the 
not-too-distant future with applying for terms when buying an automobile, large ap¬ 
pliances, or a house. Or you may simply prefer as a matter of convenience to establish 
accounts similar to ours with other firms. An unfavorable beginning can have a detri¬ 
mental effect and can cause considerable inconvenience and annoyance. 

We are hopeful that you will help us protect your credit record by bringing your ac¬ 
count up to date. Otherwise, your account will be cancelled and the return of your 
credit card required. Please give this matter your careful attention. 


My credit card account should not be past due. When I paid my bill (Check #528, 
4 Feb. 75) I naturally assumed you would maintain my account on a current basis, and 
post the attached address-change. 

Perhaps this is your first corporate experience with a change-of-address, and I am 
concerned that you might not realize the consequences of a record that is marred by 
slow or non-service. This should be highly important to you as you will most likely be 
faced in the not-too-distant future with attracting sales when marketing gasoline, oil, or 
tires. Or you may prefer as a matter of convenience to establish accounts similar to 
mine with other customers. An unfavorable beginning can have a detrimental effect 
and can cause considerable inconvenience and annoyance. 

I am hopeful that you will help me protect my credit record by bringing my account 
up to date. Otherwise my account will be cancelled and you can [editor's note: The 
remainder of this sentence has been deleted for reasons which shall remain known 
only to the editor , the author of the letter and its recipient , and the contributor of 
this WHBW item. Suffice it to say that the author suggested what could be done with 
his credit card with reference to the oil company’s “corporate assets.”] 

Please give this matter your careful attention. 

based on a shortage of computer 
programmers: the company first 
visited the Oakwood Centre to ar¬ 
range for several interested students 
to try its usual aptitude test; only 
those who showed promise began the 
company course in COBOL (Common 
Business Oriented Language), the 
most widely used programming lang¬ 
uage for business purposes. 

And it wasn't long before four 
students had completed the course 
successfully; they are now working 
together as a team of programmers, 
not only for the Ford Company, but 
for several other firms as well, on a 
wide variety of programming projects. 
It is important to realize that for 
Ford this was not a charitable ges¬ 
ture but a genuinely viable business 

What often prevents a disabled 
person from being independent, from 
supporting himself rather than being 
supported, is that even when he 
acquires useful and employable skills, 
his physical handicaps limit his 
efficiency and thus his ability to 
compete for jobs in a tough open 
market. For many kinds of activity, 
the use of computer terminals, 
specially designed for the handicapped, 
may offer a partial solution to this 

The Oakwood programmers, for 
example, are, at the moment, consi¬ 
derably hampered by the slow and 
rather laborious procedure required 
to get programs run. They must first 
type out the program on an electric 
typewriter, then send it to be punched 

puter (which may be a long way 
away). Correcting typing errors is 
slow; if any mistakes go unnoticed, 
then the output from the computer 
(which reaches the programmer at 
best a couple of days after he sends 
the program in) may be nearly use¬ 
less. These are problems which beset 
all programmers, of course, but they 
are magnified by physical immobility. 

If, however, an appropriate on-line 
terminal were available, a program 
could be typed directly to a com¬ 
puter which could analyse the state¬ 
ments for simple errors in syntax or 
spelling, allow immediate and easy 
correction, and store the final result 
on cards or magnetic tape for later 

Computer programming, though 
an immediately obvious application 
as a progression for the handicapped, 
is by no means the only one. Ac¬ 
counting, statistical analysis, construc¬ 
tion and the use of library indexing 
systems are a few of the areas where 
a terminal might assist a disabled 
person to offer competitive skills. 

One of the benefits of choosing 
Oakwood for this trial was the students 
there represent a wide range of 
academic interests and levels of 
achievement, and in the future we 
hope to explore some of these other 
possibilities more fully. The trials I 
have been describing lasted only 
three weeks; but very shortly a tele¬ 
type terminal will be installed at 
Oakwood on a longer-term basis, in 
the hope that it will be helpful as a 
part of the day-to-day educational 
activity, particularly in subjects like 


Recovering consciousness in a hospital 
emergency room after a serious acci¬ 
dent, Peter Young, Interdata’s press 
relations counsel, was assured by his 
nurse that “everything would be all 
right” now that he was attached to a 
computerized patient monitoring system. 
When the nurse noted that Young 
reacted to this comment with anxiety, 
she further attempted to reassure him 
by saying, “Don’t worry, Mr. Young, 
nobody really believes those awful 
stories about computers they print in 
the newspapers.” 

and Computers: 

A Personal View 


A reminder that a computer is not a 
man, even at the service of humanists. 
(An excerpt from the original article) 

According to a story making the 
rounds, a young man at a professional 
meeting was describing in glowing 
terms a projected study of literary 
irony to be done with the aid of a 
computer. At the conclusion of his 
remarks, a good, gray scholar arose 
and said, “Young man, you and your 
machine may well commit more 
irony than you discover/' Clearly, to 
many a humanist, the computer-using 
literary researcher is a poacher in the 
scholarly game preserve. The benevo¬ 
lent view is that his traps mangle 
what they hope to capture, or that 
they are set for deer, but only catch 
gnats. A more pessimistic view is that 
his traps have no springs in them. 

Let's assume then that our would- 
be computer user from the humani¬ 
ties is relatively innocent about the 
computing enterprise. He has gone to 
one meeting of his professional 
society on the application of com¬ 
puters to problems in literary scholar¬ 
ship. He has heard that one can use 
the computer to produce concordan¬ 
ces and bibliographies, that some 
people are even talking about using 
it to compare different editions of a 
work and produce a master text with 
variant readings. Others have tried to 
solve problems of disputed author¬ 
ship, although this sounds a bit fishy 
to him. Even more suspicious to him 
are computational studies of literary 
style and theme. His conservative 
impulses suggest a concordance, some¬ 
thing nice and solid that will lead to 
publication (and promotion). 

Our humanist goes to his local 
computer center for assistance in 
getting started. Given the nature of 
his project, it is unlikely that he will 
be put in touch with the local expert 
in artificial intelligence, if indeed 
there is one. He will probably find 
himself talking to someone whose 
experience has been with fairly 
straightforward problems in science, 
engineering, or business. Just the sort 
of person he became an English 
professor in order to avoid. But never 
mind; surely anything as mundane as 
a concordance requires no creative 
thinking. Patient hacks have been 
producing them for years using three- 
by-five cards. Then he gets his first 
shock: he cannot simply hand over 
“The Complete Dramatic Works 
of . . and get it into the machine 
automatically. Optical scanners? 

Well, yes, they are being used for 
some things, but not books . . . 
maybe in ten years. The talk then 
turns to keypunches. The scholar ex¬ 
plains that he cannot even use an 
electric typewriter. No problem. The 
graduate school will pay for key¬ 
punching for faculty members. All 
the scholar has to do is to write out 
all twenty-five plays on ruled sheets, 
one letter per column. He is appalled 
until he remembers that he has an 
undergraduate assistant. He had for¬ 
gotten about her because he could 
never think of enough things for her 
to do. Good stuff, this computer 
business; it creates employment. 

Now then, says the computer man, 
let's plan the card layout; how many 
words can we get on a card? The 
scholar begins to fidget. What's the 
longest word in your text? The 
scholar doesn't know and the com¬ 
puter man begins to fidget. He mum¬ 
bles something about people who 
haven't defined their problem. Then 
he gets an idea. Everyone knows 
what words are; they occur between 
spaces, a simple matter of program¬ 
ming. Well, says the scholar, arising 
from the edge of his chair, see you 
when I get my text into machine- 
readable form, proud of his developing 
control over the new lingo. 

A year later, the scholar returns to 
the computer center, proud of the 
twenty boxes of punched IBM cards 
reposing in his office amid the empty 
pickle jars and unread term papers. 
He is very fortunate; the computer 
center has acquired a new program¬ 
mer, who doesn't yet have enough to 
do. In the meantime, the scholar has 
discovered that keypunches have only 
capital letters. In a panic he remem¬ 
bers that his son's last computer 
report card consisted entirely of 
upper-case comments. He was assured 
that the computer center had pur¬ 
chased a printer with upper and 
lower case, and that all he need do 
was to prefix every capital letter in 
his text with some arbitrary symbol 
that would not otherwise occur, say 
an asterisk. 

Now he sits down with his pro¬ 
grammer to discuss how to instruct 
the computer to find the words on 
the cards. A naturally inquisitive 
man, he has been thinking about the 
word-definition problem. He realizes 
that words may be bound by punc- 

“He’s charged with expressing contempt for data-processing.” 

Drawing by Koren; © 1970 
The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. 

tuation marks as well as by spaces and 
that there are some ambiguous marks 
like the hyphen, which may or may 
not occur at word boundaries, 'co¬ 
worker 7 vs. 'Johnny-come-lately. 7 He 
has decided, he tells the programmer, 
not to treat hyphens as boundary 
markers. The programmer then asks 
what the longest compound in the 
plays is likely to be. He doesn't 
know and the programmer begins 
muttering under his breath. They 
hash out a number of similar prob¬ 
lems (the text, for example, contains 
the phrase '2,000,000 B.C. 7 ) and go 
on to a discussion of the concording 

Words are even more ambiguous 
than marks of punctuation, and the 
humanist now knows enough not to 
ask whether the computer can sort 
out multiple meanings of the same 
word. The programmer suggests that 
they produce a preliminary version of 
the concordance which can then be 
further sorted by hand to take care 
of this problem. The humanist begins 
muttering under his breath. Next he 
asks whether some words, such as 
'the 7 , 'am 7 , and 'shall 7 can be omitted 
from the process. A simple matter, 
says the programmer, just supply me 
with a list. The humanist begins to 
wish that he knew something of that 

arcane and upstart science called 
'linguistics 7 , but decides that he, 
after all, knows as much about words 
as anyone, and that he can accom¬ 
plish this simple but tedious task 
well enough. 

Another year and three program¬ 
mers later, the preliminary version is 
ready for final editing. The humanist 
begins to recognize that in using a 
computer there is a considerable gulf 
between working time saved and 
elapsed time saved. As he goes 
through the large pages of computer 
output in order to sort out multiple 
meanings, he wonders whether using 
the computer will have saved him 
any time at all. He also finds a num¬ 
ber of things that leave him com¬ 
pletely stunned. He discovers that 
blanks are not very reliable word 
delimiters. His text contains a lot of 
double names like 'Buenos Aires 7 ; his 
concordance contains a listing for 
'Buenos 7 and another for 'Aires 7 but 
none for 'Buenos Aires 7 . Even worse, 
a character in one of the plays being 
concorded utters the deathless line, 
"He took the Los Angeles-San Fran¬ 
cisco flight 77 ; the concordance lists 
"Los 7 , 'Angeles-San 7 , and 'Francisco 7 . 
Words like 'am 7 , 'can 7 , and 'will 7 were 
not concorded, but through an over¬ 
sight words like 'can't 7 and 'cannot 7 

were. Unfortunately, in the process of 
suppressing the auxiliary verbs, some 
other uses of these words were also 
lost, for example, 'can 7 in "I'll knock 
you on your can 77 and 'will 7 in "last 
will and testament 77 ; the computer is 
no grammarian. Also on the suppres¬ 
sion list were the names of characters 
used to introduce each speech. In 
consequence, if any of the same 
names were used within the speeches, 
they failed to get listed in the 
concordance. The computer cannot 
by itself distinguish between speaker 
and spoken-about. At this point, the 
humanist decides to publish the 
preliminary version of the concor¬ 
dance and hopes that the reviewers 
will be kind. He gives up any fleeting 
thoughts he might have had about 
doing a stylistic study of the plays 
via computer and concludes that 
perhaps his naive colleagues who view 
the computer as a Hun, a Vandal, or 
a Visigoth are right. 

The sad tale that I have outlined 
is hypothetical. There is, however, a 
computer-produced concordance in 
print which contains all of the 
errors described above plus a good 
many more which I didn't mention 
to avoid straining the credulity of the 
reader. The two reviews I have seen 
of this work were not at all kind. 

Cybernetic Scheduler 


All hell had broken loose. And quite literally too. Members 
of the Board of Governors of the university were demanding 
my head. Student rioting outside my windows, one of which 
had already been shattered, made it virtually impossible to 
hear the constant jangling of the telephone. The resignations 
of two full professors, five associate professors and a number 
of instructors lay in a pile on my desk. The Governor had just 
called to inform me that the General Assembly was going to 
demand an immediate investigation. The switchboard was 
jammed with long distance calls from irate parents and 
alumni. One mothers' group was organizing a motorcade 
from the state capitol for a protest demonstration. Reporters 
from Time, Newsweek and a score of newspapers were mak¬ 
ing an uproar in the outer office that rivaled that of the 
students outside. The state police had even been called in 
to maintain order. 

I had just finished bolting down another aspirin and was 
wondering whether I would ever get out of the mess alive 
when the door to the outer office opened suddenly and I 
was confronted with the huge terrifying bulk of K. Jason 
Smathers, the barge baron who was the President of the 
Board of Governors. He stomped across the room, planted 
his huge hairy paws heavily on my desk and began to make 
ominous growling noises. 

"O.K., Frank," he began jarringly, 'you're the president 
of this university, or what's left of it. At the moment anyway. 
So you'd better start explaining, and it'd better be good. 
The state hasn't been in such a turmoil since Morgan's 
Raiders and something's got to be done about it. Now what 
the hell happened?" 

He remained hovering over my desk, like a gargoyle on a 
Gothic cathedral, his huge glowing cigar heightening my 
awareness of the fire into which I had jumped from the 
relative comfort of the frying pan. 

"Well, Jason," I began, trying to assume an air of confi¬ 
dence but not quite succeeding, "it's not much more than a 
big misunderstanding." 

"Misunderstanding, hell!" barked K. Jason Smathers. 
"You've just set higher education in this state back fifty 
years. Heads are going to roll, and yours is going to be one 
of them. Now get on with it." 

I swallowed another aspirin and gripped the arms of my 
chair tightly to stop the trembling of my hands. 

"I suppose it all began with a chance remark I made at a 
faculty tea nearly a year ago. It was shortly after registration 
and I had not yet fully recovered from the ordeal. I just 
happened to remark to Cseszko of the Cybernetics Depart¬ 
ment that it would be nice if the whole business could be 
handled by machines, that it would save wear and tear on 
everyone and substantially reduce the number of mistakes. I 
don't recall what he said at the time, but a few weeks later 
he came to me with an idea which made me feel fully ten 
years younger. 

"I guess that Jan Cseszko's about the best cybernetics 
man in the country, so I never questioned his ability to build 
a computer which would automatically handle the entire 
registration and class scheduling process. It was a magnificent 
idea, and still is, although perhaps it represents an advance 
which we are presently incapable of accepting." 

"But damn it," Smathers interrupted sonorously, "why 
didn't you get the Board's approval before going ahead? 
This might never have happened." 

"That's a moot point," I retorted. "In all likelihood they 
would have approved of the computer without hesitation. 
After all, the idea is the most important single idea in univer¬ 
sity administration that I can think of. No one would have 
predicted trouble." 

"Well, would you mind explaining just how the damned 
thing misfired?" 

"All right, Jason. But would you mind sitting down? 

"Cseszko reported before last Christmas that the com¬ 
puter would be operational in time for registration and 
scheduling this year. The plan seemed to be foolproof. Into 
the computer we would feed data as to the desired and pos¬ 
sible schedules of instructors, from the freshman level up to 
and including the Graduate School. The machine would also 
have complete data on degree requirements and license 
requirements for teachers, physicians, dentists, engineers, 
nurses, med techs, etc., and would automatically give prefer¬ 
ence in scheduling to graduate students over undergraduates, 
seniors over juniors, juniors over sophomores, etc. Then each 
student would submit a requested schedule, together with 

alternate choices in the event that classes were closed or 
there were insoluble conflicts. Each registration request 
would be accompanied by various data concerning the 
student, so that schedules would be made consistent with 
degree and other requirements. Classes would also be formed 
in such a way as to group students by ability levels, so far as 

"So that's the system we used for registration this year." 

"Yeah," the big man roared as he jarred my desk with his 
big meaty fist, "but the cockeyed gadget must have cracked 
up. How the hell else can you explain what happened?" 

"Well, actually," I explained, "the fault does not lie with 
the computer. If anything, the computer is too good, too 
intelligent. You see, the computer did a lot more than just 
arrange schedules on the basis of available choices. In order 
to improve upon the usual pre-registration counseling proce¬ 
dure, we fed the computer complete data on the results of 
intelligence, personality, aptitude, attitude and interest tests 
for each student, plus data on each student's academic 
history. In this way we hoped to route students into programs 
best suited to their own aptitudes and personalities, a job 
which counselors can do only imperfectly. Of course, changes 
in students' schedules were optional, although we felt that 
they would be very largely accepted once the procedures were 

"Naturally, however, we did not expect such 

"Obviously not," the man behind the cigar bellowed. 
"But go on. This is getting interesting." 

"Well, the results of the computations, together with a 
brochure explaining the whole business, were printed and 
sent out. The instructors and students had their schedules 
at the same time that the Registrar's office did. We didn't 
examine the schedules before distribution because we had 
complete confidence in the new system. 

"That, it seems, was our mistake. But even then, we could 
hardly have been able to predict all the results. At any rate, 
this is what happened. 

"Nearly three thousand students were given schedules 
which completely changed their major subjects. Although 
their personality, intelligence and other tests indicate that 
these changes are advisable, very few of the students are 
inclined to accept them. Nor, for that matter, are a large 
number of parents. Nearly two thousand students were ad¬ 
vised by the computer that they were wasting time and 
money by attending college as they were totally unfit for 
higher academic work. I'm sure that you can readily imagine 
the reaction to that. 

"To complicate the picture, the computer advised that 
certain students, who happen to be members of our athletic 
teams, were unfit for academic work and would not be wise 
to hope to graduate from college. Naturally, this infuriated 
the coaching staff and brought down on our heads the wrath 
of a group of powerful and important alumni. 

"There was even more trouble when the computer advised 
that the sons and daughters of several politicians, lawyers 
and industrialists were likewise better off elsewhere than on 
the campus. 

"And beyond that, as we wished to avoid student-faculty 
conflict, unconscious or otherwise, we gave the computer 
data on the personalities of faculty members, though this 

data was and is confidential. As a result, the computer sug¬ 
gested that several faculty members, from full professors 
down to mere instructors, were not suited to teaching, and 
even recommended that several of them enroll for certain 
courses themselves. 

"And since you're here, you're thoroughly familiar with 
the results of all this. Once the thing got started, it was too 
late to stop it." 

"I'll say it's too late." 

"Of course," I resumed, "if the Board, the Governor, the 
Alumni Association and the Faculty Council will back us up, 
we can still go ahead with the plan. There will be certain 
dislocations which cannot be avoided, but on the whole, I 
think that everything can eventually be straightened out. 
And in the future our system will probably be regarded as one 
of the most important developments in American higher 
education. It will take a while for the idea to become ac¬ 
cepted, but I have no doubts as to its ultimate value and 

"Well, maybe you can sell some other state on the idea. 
But this one's had enough. You can't just maneuver people 
like that, even if it's for their own good. At any rate, I think 
that your resignation and Cseszko's had better be on my 
desk before this time tomorrow. It will be for the good of 
the university." 

"I'm sorry that it has to be this way, but there is no 

He rose, pumped my hand perfunctorily and bounded 

I slumped down in my chair. A beautiful career shot to 
hell, I thought, just by trying to do one's best. Cseszko could 
always go to MIT or IBM or somewhere. But what would I 

Well, maybe I can get a job in one of those jerkwater 
colleges that no one has ever heard of. 

I buzzed for Miss Simmons, who came in looking much 
the worse for wear after her encounter with that flock of 

"Take a letter," I began slowly, "to the Board of 


I think that I shall never see 
A calculator made like me. 

A me that likes martinis dry 
And on the rocks, a little rye. 

A me that looks at girls and such, 
But mostly girls, and very much. 

A me that wears an overcoat 
And likes a risky anecdote. 

A me that taps a foot and grins 
Whenever Dixieland begins. 

They make computers for a fee, 
But only moms can make a me. 




First get it through your head that 
computers are big, expensive, fast, 
dumb adding-machine—typewriters. 
Then realize that most of the com¬ 
puter technicians that you’re likely 
to meet or hire are complicators, 
not simplifiers. They’re trying to 
make it look tough. Not easy. 
They’re building a mystique, a 
priesthood, their own mumbo- 
jumbo ritual to keep you from 
knowing what they—and you—are 

Here are some rules of thumb: 

1. At this state of the art, keep 
decisions on computers at the 
highest level. Make sure the climate 
is ruthlessly hard-nosed about the 
practicality of every system, every 
program, and every report. “What 
are you going to do with that re¬ 
port?" “What would you do if you 
didn’t have it?" Otherwise your 
programmers will be writing their 
doctoral papers on your machines, 
and your managers will be drown¬ 
ing in ho-hum reports they’ve been 
conned into asking for and are 
ashamed to admit are of no value. 

2. Make sure your present system 
is reasonably clean and effective 
before you automate. Otherwise 
your new computer will just speed 
up the mess. 

3. Before you hire a computer 
specialist, make it a condition that 
he spend some time in the factory 
and then sell your shoes to the 

Guerrilla War Against Computers 

Time Magazine 

A middle-aged, overweight free-lance journalist who plays the jew's-harp is 
hardly the prototype of a revolutionary. But Harvey Matusow, 46, has full 
credentials for conspiracy. An American Communist in the 1940s who turned 
fbi informer and spent five years in prison for perjury (after admitting that he 
had testified falsely against some 250 supposed Reds), Matusow now lives and 
plots in London. He is the self-appointed president of the International Society 
for the Abolition of Data Processing Machines, which claims 1,500 members. 
Like Matusow, they look on the computer as an exploitative monster that has 
turned on its creator. 

Members receive, free of charge, an i.s.a.d.p.m. identification card decorated 
with a red slingshot, symbolic of David's battle with Goliath. They also get a 
year's subscription to Matusow's anti-computer newsletter, which he plans to 
start publishing soon. For 6s., they can get a copy of his 125-page The Beast of 
Business , a handbook of guerrilla tactics for computer haters that might have 
been conceived by Che Guevara. 

"The computer has a healthy and conservative function in mathematics and 
other sciences," Matusow allows, but "when the uses involve business or govern¬ 
ment, and the individual is tyrannized, then we make our stand." The methods 
he proposes for dealing with the Enemy are fiendishly sophisticated. No simple 
stapling, folding or mutilation of a computer card for him. "That will nullify 
the effect of the card," he says. "But it will make it easy to spot and will not 
have much effect on disrupting the system." 

Instead, he suggests playing "computer-card roulette"—placing the card on a 
drawing board, carefully cutting out three or four extra rectangular holes with a 
razor blade, and returning the card to sender. Matusow claims to have altered a 
magazine subscription card in that manner. As a result, he received 23 copies 
of the magazine each week and a note thanking him for using the publication 
in his current-events class. 

Subtler souls might prefer other Matusow tactics—like erasing the magnetic 
coding on their personal checks by running the code numbers under an electro¬ 
magnet. "The effect," he says, "is that your checks will not be processed by the 
automatic sorting device. Someone at the bank will have to handle them per¬ 
sonally. But after all, it's your money, and it should get the loving care it 

A prime rule in Matusow's anti-computer campaign is to "always let the 
enemies know that you are at war with them." He suggests that recipients of a 
computerized bill destroy the returnable portion, then mail back a check to¬ 
gether with a note explaining what they have done and why. When paying 
utility bills, Matusow advises doing it promptly—but overpaying or underpaying 
by a penny or two. The effect, he says, is to send an unsophisticated computer 
into a state of hysteria. 

Other promising targets for attack include post offices that use computerized 
mail sorters and telephone operators who insist that customers place their own 
long-distance calls with a computerized dialing code. Matusow advises pasting 
stamps on sideways so that the scanner cannot read the magnetized strips that 
differentiate between values of stamps. In persuading telephone operators to 
handle calls personally, he suggests saying: "I'm sorry, operator, but I'm blind 
and do need your assistance." That ploy "is bound to make her feel extremely 
guilty, and will make it easier for the next caller who wants her to make the 

Finally, for those whose frustrations cannot be expunged by small, subtle 
victories, Matusow proposes direct confrontation—attacking the inhuman enemy 
with the most human of weapons: "Women going into a room with a bank of 
computers are advised to wear a lot of the cheapest perfume they can find." 
Computers operate effectively only in "clean" air, Matusow explains, and are 
highly sensitive to environmental changes. Heavy dollops of perfume could 
paralyze a computer as effectively as they do those of a weak-kneed human 


Bowles, Edmund A. Computers in Humanistic Research. 
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967. 

Computers in Oceanography. Maynard, Mass.: Digital 
Equipment Corp. 

“Computers in Sports". AF1PS Conference Proceedings. 
1971 Fall Joint Computer Conference. Montvale, N.J.: 
AFIPS Press, 1971. 397-400. 

Computers in the Life Sciences. Maynard, Mass.: Digital 
Equipment Corp. 

Franke, H. W. “Computer Graphics." Graphics , No. 161, 

Franke, H. W. Computer Graphics , Computer Art. London: 
Phaidon Press, 1971. 

Guetzkow, Harold. Simulation in Social Sciences. Engle¬ 
wood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1962. 

Kranz, Stewart. Science and Technology in the Arts. New 
York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1974. 

Lickleder, J. C. R. Libraries of the Future. Cambridge, Mass.: 
The M.I.T. Press, 1965. 


1. Suppose you have been incorrectly billed for $6.00 from 
the XYZ Company for the last four months and they 
are now threatening to ruin your credit rating. You 
have written the company several times and received no 
reply. What would you do next? Would you do any¬ 
thing different if the bill was $300.00? 

2. Check out the subject of computer simulation. Find 
some examples. Can you find any examples that were 
later proved badly incorrect? What went wrong? (Hint: 
Find some reviews on the book The Limits to Growth.) 

3. Develop a list of foreseeable developments of com¬ 
puter uses and their potential consequences in a par¬ 
ticular field. 

4. Write a paper on the use of computers in one of the 
following fields: 

a) law 

b) medicine 

c) library science 

d) agriculture 

e) mining 

f) fisheries 

g) forest products 

h) your field 

5. Consult some of the following sources (or others) and 

locate some computer applications tjaat interest you. 
Computers and People Computer World 

Datamation Data Processing Magazine 

Either write a report or give a report to the class on each 

Mueller, Robert. “Idols of Computer Art." Art in America , 
May 1972. 

Proceedings of a Conference on Computers in the Under¬ 
graduate Curricula. Annual proceedings. Published by the 
individual college hosting the conference. 

Reichardt, Jasia. The Computer in Art. New York: Van 
Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1971. 

Reichardt, Jasia. Cybernetics , Art, and Ideas. Greenwich, 
Conn.: New York Graphics Society Ltd., 1971. 

Reichardt, Jasia. Cybernetic Serendipity. New York: Freder¬ 
ick A. Praeger, 1969. 

Sanders, Donald H. Computers and Management. New 
York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1974. 

Sedelow, S. “The Computer in Humanities and Fine Arts." 
Computing Surveys , June 1970. 

Shorter, Edward. The Historian and the Computer. Engle¬ 
wood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1971. 

Wisbey, R. A. The Computer in Literary and Linguistic 
Research. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1971. 

6. Investigate a computer-dating bureau. Find out how 
the matching of pairs is done. Is a computer used? How 
valid do you think the whole process is? What about the 
privacy of the information you divulge? 

7. On most department or credit card bills you are charged 
a percentage (such as 1|%) on any unpaid balance. 
Determine exactly how the interest charges are calcu¬ 
lated. Are fractions of a cent rounded or truncated? 
What happens when you pay only part of the bill—are 
charges calculated on the balance before or after your 
payment is credited? Then, considering that it costs 
you something for the check and the stamp when pay¬ 
ing the bill, figure out what the amount should be 
before it is financially better not to pay the bill. 

8. Some companies have been charged with mailing post¬ 
dated bills, that is, bills that are mailed so it is difficult 
to pay them before being liable for finance charges. 
Monitor some charge bills to see if this is true of any 
of your bills. Look at the following dates: 

a) date of bill 

b) postmark of letter, which indicates mailing date 

c) date bill received 

Next, how many days do you have before the bill is 
due? Are all dates reasonable? Between the date of 
the bill and the postmark there should be not more 
than four or five days, since most bills are processed by 
computers. Did you find any companies that seem to 
be purposely sending out bills late? What do you think 
should be the minimum number of days you should 

Some types of bills do not usually add finance charges 
(i.e., utility bills). Do utility companies or other com¬ 
panies that do not charge finance charges send you 
their bills faster? 

9. Go down to a local credit bureau and find out as much 
as possible about your own credit rating. Next, find out 
as much as possible about how credit bureaus work. 

10. Examine your utility bills. Find out what the printed 
symbols stand for and calculate the bill by hand to 
check it. Are fractions of cents rounded or truncated? 
Which would be best for you? 

11. Examine a computerized payroll check. Find out how 
all deductions are calculated. Calculate it by hand. 
Are fractions of a cent truncated or rounded? Which 
would be best for you on each deduction? 

12. Find someone who has been a victim of a computerized 
error. How difficult was it to get the error corrected? 

13. Computers are used in sports. For example, computers 
can be used to examine previous games of opposing 
teams to determine what type of action individual 
players and teams probably will take in certain situa¬ 
tions. Do research to find out what is being done 
presently in the sports world with computers. Predict 
what uses computers will soon be used for there. What 
influence will this have on sports? What could your 
favorite team do to nullify computer analysis by an 
opposing team? 

14. Automation has often been an issue in strikes. Find 
some reports on strikes in which automation was an 
issue. What are the goals of labor and management in 
regard to automation? What trends in regard to 
automation can you find by examining recent strike 

15. Can you think of some computer applications that 
should not be attempted because of moral or social 
issues? Defend your choices. 

16. Find out the status of your private medical records. 
Who can see them or get copies of them—for example, 
other doctors, insurance investigators, governmental 
agents, or welfare officials? Are you notified when others 
request your records? 

17. Apply for credit. Try to find out exactly how it is deter¬ 
mined if you will get credit. Obtain a copy of all the 
information they use to make the decision. Where is a 
computer involved? 

18. Most mass advertising is done by computers. Find some 
firm that does mass mailings. How much does it charge 
for addresses? Can it provide addresses by category: 
by economic status, by profession, and so forth, and at 
what price? 

19. Joan Smith, a part-time employee, has received a pay- 
check in which the computer inadvertently printed her 
net pay as $245.80 instead of $45.80. Joan cashed the 
check. Does she owe the school money? If not, who 
does? The computer? The operator? The input/output 
clerk? The programmer? 

What about a situation in which a person receives a 
small amount extra and could not be reasonably ex¬ 
pected to know it was incorrect? 

20. Study the impact of computers on some artistic field, 
such as sculpture, painting, music, or fiction. Find 
examples of the computer as a subject of the art/or a 
tool for producing the art. 




the Constitution, 
and Privacy 


United States Senator from North Carolina 

Delivered in a series of discussions on 
“Computers and Privacy” at Miami 
University, Hamilton, Ohio, June 28, 

I am very pleased to be here to talk 
with you about Justice, the Consti¬ 
tution and Privacy as part of Miami 
University's series of discussions on 
the subject of Computers and Privacy. 

A while back I decided that I had 
read a lot about privacy, but I didn't 
really know much about computers. 

So I took some time off from my 
duties at the Senate and spent a 
whole day watching computers in 
operation and learning how these 
machines work. I was impressed by 
the multitude of tedious and difficult 
tasks that computers could perform 
in a fraction ©f the time it would 
take a person—and with no mistakes 

In fact, I was so impressed by 
those computers—how meticulously 
and logically they could interrelate 
bits of information—that I thought 
about writing a Constitutional 
Amendment to allow a computer to 
become President. With its absolutely 
accurate and almost limitless memory, 
its infallible logic in relating one bit 
of information to another, and its 
superhuman speed, a computer, it 
seemed, could make a perfect President 

But then I thought again. Cer¬ 
tainly the computer would always 
come to perfectly logical conclusions. 
But what about conclusions affected 
by inspiration, by compassion, by 
humanity? And what about seemingly 
irrational decisions based on love of 
justice, or hatred of tyranny? A com¬ 
puter just cannot draw illogical 
conclusions from logical facts. I 
thought better of my Constitutional 
Amendment to make a computer 
President. There is something about 
human decision-makers for all of their 
mistakes and irrationality, which a 
computer simply cannot replace. 

It seems to me that our system 
of democratic government depends at 
least in part on the uniquely human 
capacity of those who govern to come 
on occasion to what appear to be 
irrational conclusions. The ability to 
abandon logic for the sake of human¬ 
ity and to insist that human existence 
cannot be reduced to even the most 
sophisticated of mathematical formulas 
is as much a part of our system as 
the Constitution itself. 

This is not to say that computers 
are not extremely useful tools. They 
are. It is merely to point out that 

there are some tasks for which com¬ 
puters are simply not suited. 

When we talk about the role 
which computers can and ought to 
play in governmental decision mak¬ 
ing, and the potential dangers 
computers pose to privacy, it seems 
to me that we are primarily con¬ 
cerned about the impact computerized 
information systems can have on indi¬ 
viduals. We are concerned that the 
logical, categorizing processes of the 
computer will in some way run 
roughshod over our fundamental 
belief in the uniqueness and dignity 
of individual human personality. 

It is, after all, the faith of the 
founders of this nation in the individ¬ 
ual as a free and self-determining 
being that led them to set up our 
democratic form of government. Be¬ 
cause of their faith in the individual, 
the framers of our Constitution took 
great pains to set up a system of 
limited government so as to maximize 
the protection of individuals from 
governmental interference. In order 
to guard against certain specific 
abuses of governmental power which 
would endanger individual freedom, 
the Founding Fathers added the first 
two amendments to the Constitution, 
which we have come to treasure as 
the Bill of Rights. 

The First Amendment was de¬ 
signed to protect the sanctity of the 
individual's private thoughts and 
beliefs. It protects the rights to speak 
and remain silent, to receive and 
impart information and ideas, and to 
associate in private and in public 
with others of like mind. After all, it 
is only by protecting this inner privacy 
that freedom of speech, religion, 
assembly and many other individual 
liberties can be protected. 

The Third Amendment's prohibi¬ 
tion of quartering soldiers in private 
homes protects the privacy of the 
individual's living space. This aspect 
of privacy is also protected by the 
Fourth Amendment's guarantee of 
“the right of the people to be secure 
in their persons, houses, papers, and 
effects, against unreasonable searches 
and seizures." In addition to the 
privacy of the individual's home and 
personal effects, the privacy of his 
person (or bodily integrity) and even 
his private telephone conversations 
are protected by the Fourth Amend- 


mane you POUJERLFSS?\ 


ME, OVER 93,000 ROLFS 

/N northern new sepsey 





ment from unwarranted governmental 

The Fifth Amendment guarantees 
that an individual accused of a crime 
shall not be forced to divulge private 
information which might incriminate 
him. This privilege against self in¬ 
crimination focuses directly on the 
sanctity of the individual human 
personality and the right of each 
individual to keep private information 
which might place his life and free¬ 
dom in jeopardy. 

The Fifth Amendment also guar¬ 
antees that no person shall be "de¬ 
prived of life, liberty, or property 
without the due process of law/' This 
right to due process protects individ¬ 
ual privacy by preventing unwarran¬ 
ted governmental interference with 
the individual's person, personality 
and property. 

The Ninth Amendment's reserva¬ 
tion that "the enumeration in the 
Constitution, of certain rights, shall 
not be construed to deny or disparage 
others retained by the People" clearly 
shows that the Founding Fathers 
contemplated that certain basic indi¬ 
vidual rights not specifically men¬ 
tioned in the constitution—such as 
privacy—should nevertheless be safe 
from governmental interference. 

Just recently in Roe v. Wade the 
Supreme Court has located the right 
of privacy in the Fourteenth Amend¬ 
ment's guarantee that no state shall 
"deprive any person of life, liberty, 
or property without due process of 
law." Rights to give and receive 
information, to family life and child- 
rearing according to one's conscience, 
to marriage, to procreation, to contra¬ 
ception, and to abortion are all as¬ 
pects of individual privacy which the 

courts have similarly held to be 
constitutionally protected. 

To my mind privacy means more 
than merely restricting governmental 
interference in these specific areas. 
Someone has suggested that privacy is 
a catchword for the control the indi¬ 
vidual exercises over information 
about himself. And yet because such 
a definition focuses on the informa¬ 
tion rather than the individual, it 
seems to look in the wrong direction. 
Control over information is important 
to our right of privacy only when 
that information is related to us as 
individuals. In the end, privacy depends 
upon society's recognition and protec¬ 
tion of the importance and uniqueness 
of each individual. 

As chairman of the Senate Sub¬ 
committee on Constitutional Rights, 

I have over the years received many 
complaints about governmental invas¬ 
ions of individual privacy. In some 
cases, the government has intruded 
into the personal lives, homes and 
physical integrity of individual citi¬ 
zens in order to collect private 
information about them. In other 
cases, the government has used, or 
misused, such private information, 
and has disseminated it without the 
knowledge or consent of the indi¬ 
vidual citizen involved. 

A while back it occurred to me 
that we did not even know how 
many data banks containing informa¬ 
tion about individuals the federal 
government has. So I wrote to fifty 
federal agencies and asked them just 

I thought about writing a Constitu 
tional Amendment to allow a 
computer to become President. 

how many such databanks they have, 
what kind of information these data¬ 
banks contain and who gets to see it 
and under what circumstances. Most 
of the responses are in a report that 
will be published later this year by 
the Senate Subcommittee on Consti¬ 
tutional Rights. So far we have received 
information on more than 750 data¬ 
banks with varying contents, opera¬ 
tional guidelines and the like. 

The response we received earlier 
this month from the Office of 
Emergency Preparedness describes 
what must be the ultimate in govern¬ 
mental databanks. One of the data¬ 
banks maintained by the Office of 
Emergency Preparedness contains 
records on some 5,000 individuals. 

But the Office of Emergency Pre¬ 
paredness does not know its contents 
and has no access to the information 
it contains. They just maintain it. 
Short of emergency circumstances the 
Office of Emergency Preparedness 
will never have access to this databank 
which is "utilized and kept current 
on a regular basis by authorized 
specialists in the Personnel Opera¬ 
tions element of the White House 
staff. No other agencies or individuals 
have access to these files." So here we 
have a federal agency maintaining a 
databank to which it has no access 
and the contents of which even the 
agency does not know. I have written 
to the White House to see if they 
can give us some clue as to what 
information is contained in these files 
and who has access to it. 

Collection of information in govern¬ 
mental databanks is accomplished in 
a variety of ways. Some of it is ob¬ 
tained directly from the individuals 
involved. The Decennial Census is an 

example of this sort of data collec¬ 
tion. Article II of the Constitution 
provides for an "Enumeration” every 
ten years so that Representatives can 
be apportioned among the states 
according to population. To make 
that head-count compulsory is perfectly 
alright. But nowhere does the Consti¬ 
tution countenance compelling 
citizens to respond on pain of crim¬ 
inal penalties to such personal 
questions as: 

Do you have a flush toilet? 

Have you been married more than 

Did your first marriage end be¬ 
cause of death of wife or 

What is your rent? 

What is your monthly electric bill? 

Did you work at any time last 

Do you have a dishwasher? Built- 
in or portable? 

How did you get to work last 

(Driver, private auto; passenger, 
private auto; subway, bus; taxi; 
walked only; other means) 

How many bedrooms to you have? 

Do you have a health condition or 
disability which limits the 
amount of work you can do at a 
job? How long have you had 
this disability? 

To my mind, the use of the Federal 
criminal laws to force people to 
divulge such personal information, 
which bears no relation to any legi¬ 
timate governmental purpose, is 

Even worse, because of its lack of 
candor, is the Census Bureau's prac¬ 
tice of sending out questionnaires on 

behalf of other government agencies. 
Theoretically, response to such ques¬ 
tionnaires is wholly voluntary. But 
the Census Bureau's cover letters do 
not say that response is voluntary. 
Take, for example, a questionnaire 
the Census Bureau sent out at the 
behest of the Department of Health, 
Education and Welfare to retired 
persons. The questionnaire inquired 
into such private matters as: 

How often do you call your 

What do you spend on presents 
for grandchildren? 

How many newspapers and maga¬ 
zines do you buy a month? 

Do you wear artificial dentures? 

About how often do you go to a 
barber shop or beauty salon? 

Taking things all together, would 
you say you're very happy, 
pretty happy, or not too happy 
these days? 

Although response to this ques¬ 
tionnaire was voluntary, many, if not 
most, of the retired folks who re¬ 
ceived the official Census Bureau 
packet feared that they would be 
penalized if they did not answer. 

I have in the past introduced 
legislation to control the worst of 
these privacy-invading questions. But 
unfortunately, bitter opposition on 

Computer Leads Watergate 
Committee to Its Witnesses 


A key "member” of the Senate Watergate committee's investigative team is a 
computer that can spew out the most minute details of any witness on a 
moment's notice. 

This and other details of the committee's investigative techniques were 
described by the Watergate Committee's chief counsel, Sam Dash, at a seminar 
of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America here this past weekend. 

Mr. Dash told his rapt audience that the Library of Congress computer 
services, being used for the first time by a Senate investigating committee, 
digest transcripts of public and executive committee sessions, voluminous news 
clippings, all of the diaries received from witnesses, and all other information 
received from the committee, and then print specific or general background on 
any witness instantly. 


Mr. Dash described to the Christian Science Monitor the tight security that 
surrounds the committee's computer. All data is stored on special tapes, which 
are kept under lock by the committee. 

Mr. Dash is given daily printouts of general background on every witness 
including interrelationships with other witnesses. "We can check in a minute of 
whether Witness A was in a city at the same time as B and C, which takes 
days otherwise.” 

But sensitive material can only be printed out after "I sign a special author¬ 
ization,” he says. 

The computer also was used to check discrepancies in a witness's testimony 
in seconds while the witness was still on the stand, an impossibility if the staff 
had had to check back through mountains of files. 


The techniques used to develop startling new evidence, such as the secret bug¬ 
ging system in the White House, involved "plodding, hard work of investiga¬ 
tors,” Mr. Dash explained. For every potential witness, a "satellite chart” was 
plotted, including secretaries, staff assistants, business associates and others. 
Often these charts included 75 to 100 names, all of whom were interviewed. 

Alexander P. Butterfield, who installed the White House bugs, was found 
through the satellite chart of former top presidential assistant H. R. Haldeman. 

the part of the Administration, as 
well as state and local governments 
and private agencies which use Cen¬ 
sus information, has so far blocked 
passage of such controls. It is unfor¬ 
tunate, but true, that bureaucrats 
who collect information can always 
think up reasons for wanting to 
collect more and more of it. Those of 
us who are concerned about indivi¬ 
dual privacy face an endless battle in 
constantly pointing out that just be¬ 
cause government agencies want 
information about individuals should 
not be sufficient reason for forcing 
people to provide it or face criminal 
penalties. That is why I am in favor 

of putting the shoe on the other 
foot—forcing data collectors, such as 
the Census Bureau, to justify each 
bit of information they want to 
collect about us and honestly disclos¬ 
ing to each citizen that participation 
in many of these surveys is wholly 

One of the most disturbing aspects 
of governmental data collection is the 
use of surrepetitious surveillance and 
intelligence operations to collect in¬ 
formation on innocent citizens whose 
political views and activities are 
contrary to those of the Administra¬ 
tion. Recent events have dramatized 
the disturbing prospect that such 

Computer Helps Predict 
Supreme Court Actions 

east lansing, Mich.— A Michigan State University professor who predicts Su¬ 
preme Court decisions by computer rejects the idea that the third branch of 
government could be replaced by a judicial automation. The court is a human 
institution, he insists, and success in forecasting its actions is rooted in psychology. 

The political science professor has correctly predicted the court's ruling in 88 
percent of the cases in the past four years which he has studied (69 out of 78 
predictions). He's also foretold the votes of the individual justices accurately 86 
percent of the time. 

Dr. Spaeth's "crystal ball" is MSU's giant CDC 6500 computer. 

Into the computer he feeds data on each case under consideration and the 
men who will decide it. He winds up with an indication of how each justice 
will vote. 

Dr. Spaeth works under the assumptions that judicial behavior is no different 
from other types of human behavior, except for the limitations imposed by the 
rules of the court. 

Borrowing from Dr. Milton Rokeach, a prominent MSU psychologist, he 
identifies three principles that tell him how a jury is likely to act when con¬ 
fronted with a specific issue: 

An individual's attitudes are established and endure from the time he as¬ 
sumes a place in adult society. 

Human behavior is goal-oriented, and a person will make decisions according 
to his personal policy preferences unless prevented from doing so by a rule 
of the institution in which he is operating. 

To accurately predict a person's behavior it is not enough to identify his 
policy preferences, but the character of those preferences must also be 

Biographical data, voting records and written opinions of the justices give Dr. 
Spaeth part of his input. The rest comes from careful analysis of the case in 

Each case is classified according to one or more of 73 different categories 
and coded for the computer. 

Despite its predictability, Dr. Spaeth is convinced that the court decides 
each case according to the circumstances peculiar to it, and does, by and 
large, dispense blind justice. 

It is unfortunate, but true, that 
bureaucrats who collect informa¬ 
tion can always think up reasons 
for wanting to collect more and 
more of it. 

covert data collection may be even 
more widespread than we had feared. 

Governmental surveillance can 
take many forms. Just recently, I 
learned that in cities from San Fran¬ 
cisco, California to Mt. Vernon, New 
York, high-powered cameras have 
been set up to keep track of indivi¬ 
duals and their activities. These 
cameras are so sensitive they can read 
an automobile license plate five 
blocks away. They can focus on an 
individual as he talks with friends 
and associates and can follow him as 
he walks down the street. They can 
peek through the windows of the 
homes of innocent Americans and 
record what is going on inside. It 
seems to me that this is the very sort 
of secret prying into the private lives 
and activities of individuals which 
bodes much evil for our democracy. 
These cameras represent the tools of 
tyranny and totalitarianism which 
seek total control over the lives of 
individuals. They are, in my opinion, 
utterly inappropriate in a society 
which values the privacy and civil 
liberties of the individual. 

I used to think that there could 
be nothing worse than this kind of 
invasion of individual privacy. But 
recently there has come to my atten¬ 
tion instance after instance of the 
government's systematic invasion of 
the privacy of citizens who have done 
no wrong, but who disagree with the 
government's policies. Surveillance 
has become a kind of punishment for 
the exercise of constitutionally pro¬ 
tected First Amendment freedoms of 
speech, association and press. 

For example, in its continuing battle 
with the press, the Administration 
has resorted to this sort of systematic 
invasion of privacy in order to punish 
those members of the press who insist 
on criticizing Administration policies. 
Some of you may have heard about 
what happened to CBS newsman, 
Daniel Schorr. After a series of articles 
critical of the Administration, Mr. 
Schorr woke up one morning to find 
himself the object of a full-scale FBI 
investigation. On the specious grounds 

One of the major drawbacks to 
the collection of information is the 
human temptation to use it, and 
in some instances, to misuse it. 

that Mr. Schorr was being considered 
for “possible federal employment/ 7 
the White House had ordered a 
thorough investigation of Daniel 
Schorr, his past and present asso¬ 
ciations, activities, employment and 
the like. Friends, acquaintances, 
colleagues, employers and former 
employers were telephoned and inter¬ 
viewed by FBI agents who asked 
about Mr. Schorr's character and 
patriotism, as well as his fitness for a 
position in the Executive Branch. 

When I heard about what had 
happened to Mr. Schorr, I sought to 
find out from the White House just 
what high-level executive position 
purported to justify this apparently 
punitive surveillance of a newsman 
known to be critical of Administra¬ 
tion policies and programs. First the 
White House announced that Daniel 
was “being considered for a job that 
is presently filled." A few days later 
the White House reported that 
Daniel Schorr was being considered 
for a new position which “has not 
been filled." In the end he was never 
offered any job by the Administra¬ 
tion. The White House finally lamely 
announced that Daniel Schorr's name 
had been “dropped from considera¬ 
tion" and that the FBI investigation 
had been “terminated in the very 
early stages." According to the White 
House, the preliminary surveillance 
report, which was “entirely favorable", 
had been “subsequently destroyed." 
But the damage had already been 

Daniel Schorr described the 
damaging effects of such surveillance 
on a news reporter in this way: 

“Even if the investigation had been set 
off by a tentative job offer, the effect, 
under the circumstances, had to be chil¬ 
ling to my work as a reporter. An FBI 
investigation is not a 'routine formality/ 
It has an impact on ones' life, on rela¬ 
tions with employers, neighbors, and 
friends. To this day, I must manage a 
strained smile when asked on social occa¬ 
sions whether my 'FBI shadow' is with 
me. It has become standard humor to 
inquire whether I am still 'in trouble 
with the FBI,' whether it is safe to talk 
tn me on the telenhnne 

“I am left now to ponder, when a 
producer rejects a controversial story I 
have offered, whether it is because of the 
normal winnowing process or because of 
my trouble-making potential. Even more 
am I left to wonder when I myself dis¬ 
card a line of investigation whether I am 
subconsciously affected by a reluctance 
to embroil my superiors in new troubles 
with the Nixon Administration. I should 
like to think that the government cannot 
directly intimidate me. But my employer, 
with millions at stake in an industry 
subject to regulations and pressure, is 
sensitive to the government, and I am 
sensitive to my employers' problems." 

And Daniel Schorr's case is not 
unique. We have had reports of ex¬ 
tensive surveillance, wire-tapping, and 
even burglaries perpetrated on other 

When this sort of governmental 
prying into the private lives of indi¬ 
viduals is used as a deterrent to the 
exercise of such constitutionally- 
protected freedoms, as freedom of 
the press, it involves a double evil: 
Not only is individual privacy in¬ 
vaded; that very invasion of privacy is 
used to punish or prevent the exercise 
of other rights. 

Surveillance has become a kind 
of punishment for the exercise of 
constitutionally protected First 
Amendment freedoms of speech, 
association and press. 

I have just been talking about 
some examples of improper and 
reprehensible invasions of individual 
privacy in the collection of informa¬ 
tion, and the Executive Branch's use 
of such privacy-invading information 
collection to deter the exercise of 
other constitutional rights. But the 
difficulties with such data collection 
are not the only problems inherent in 
governmental data systems. It seems 
to me that one of the major draw¬ 
backs to the collection of information 
is the human temptation to use it, 
and in some instances, to misuse it, 
by giving it out to those who have 
no right or reason to have it. 

On the most general level it seems 
to me just plain unhealthy for some 
master computer to keep track of 
every detail of our lives—our words 
and deeds, our mistakes and failures, 
our weaknesses and our strengths. 
Some experts in the field of informa¬ 

tion systems have suggested that 
massive data collection on every 
detail of each individual's life poses 
the danger of creating an “informa¬ 
tion prison" in which the individual 
is forever constrained by his past 
words and actions. What is lost in 
the process is the individual's capacity 
to grow and change, to define and 
redefine himself and to redeem past 
errors. There is something to be said 
for forgiving and forgetting, and for 
the opportunity to start anew. That 
chance for a new start is, after all, 
the reason why many of our ancestors 
came to this country—to leave past 
lives and past mistakes behind, and 
to begin building a new life all over 
again. It was that same sense of 
being able to leave the past behind 
and begin again that led to the 
development of the West—settlers 
moving away from old lives and 
starting again in the frontier where 
the past could not catch up with 

That time is gone forever now. 

But it seems to me that this spirit of 
the frontier—that there will always be 
somewhere a man can go and start 
all over again, where he can redeem 
his past mistakes by hard work and 
good deeds—ought not to be gone 
forever. That is why I am opposed to 
the collection of any more informa¬ 
tion about individuals than is abso¬ 
lutely necessary. That is also why I 
am skeptical about the use of the 
Social Security Number, or any other 
universal identifier, to tag each of us 
for life with all sorts of data about 
what we have said and done in the 
past. It seems to me that there is 
much to be lost by locking indivi¬ 
duals into their pasts or, to put it 
another way, by straight-jacketing 
individuals in the dossiers of their 
past words and deeds. 

We would do well to heed the 
warning of John Stuart Mill over a 
century ago that— 

“A State which dwarfs its men, in 
order that they may be more docile 
instruments in its hands even for 
beneficial purposes—will find that with 
small men no great thing can really 
be accomplished. . . ." 

If we do not heed this warning, 
there will come a time when records 
will become more important than the 

individual when the lininnenecc nf 

each human being will be sacrificed 
to the false gods of convenience and 
efficiency, when the opportunity for 
individuals to grow and change will 
have been eliminated. We have not 
reached that point yet, but vigilance 
seems in order lest it come upon us 

It is in this area of information 
storage and dissemination that the 
impact of computerization is perhaps 
most significant. It is therefore not 
surprising that the computers, rather 
than their operators, have often been 
blamed for many of the serious prob¬ 
lems involved in the dissemination 
of information about individuals. The 
capacity of computers to find and 
print out great masses of informa¬ 
tion at fantastic speed has magnified 
the adverse, as well as the benefi¬ 
cial effects of ready access to this 

To begin with, in those cases 
where the information is inaccurate, a 
computerized system makes that 
inaccurate information more easily 
available to more people in less time 
than was ever dreamed possible in 
the pre-computer days. When I think 
of computers grinding away, and 
spewing forth more and more infor¬ 
mation about American citizens at 
ever faster rates, lam often reminded 
of a surprising communication I 
received from the Social Security 
Administration several years ago. It 
was a notification to my beneficiaries 
that they were eligible for death 
benefits on account of my demise. It 
made me think of Mark Twain's re¬ 
mark that the "reports of my death 
are greatly exaggerated." I was rather 
amused at the time; but I later paused 
to think of all the other erroneous 
information government computers 
send out routinely every day—some¬ 
times with rather serious consequences. 

Some information can be very 
damaging to individuals whether it is 
accurate or not. Take for example 
arrest records or the narcotics users 
registries maintained by a number of 
federal agencies. The mere fact that 
an individual's name is recorded as a 
narcotics user or as having been 
arrested is often sufficient to deprive 
that individual of job opportunities, 
insurance, credit and many other im¬ 
portant rights and benefits. Even 
worse, those individuals who have 

having been arrested suffer this depri¬ 
vation of rights and opportunities 
without a trial, without witnesses, 
without a chance to defend them¬ 
selves—in short, without due process 
of law. 

Much recent controversy has fo¬ 
cused on what can and ought to be 

done to control the indiscriminate 
dissemination of arrest records. The 
federal government collects and com¬ 
puterizes such information in the 
National Crime Information Center 
run by the Federal Bureau of Investi¬ 
gation which in turn disseminates 
such information to all sorts of 


(To JS/07/M/378) 

This Marble Monument is Erected by the State 

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be 
One against whom there was no official complaint, 

And all the reports on his conduct agree 

That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint, 

For in everything he did he served the Greater Community. 

Except for the War till the day he retired 
He worked in a factory and never got fired, 

But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc. 

Yet he wasn’t scab or odd in his views, 

For his Union reports that he paid his dues, 

(Our report on his Union shows it was sound) 

And our Social Psychology workers found 

That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink. 

The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day 
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way. 

Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured, 

And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured. 

Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare 
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan 
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man, 

A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire. 

Our researchers into Public Opinion are content 
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year; 

When there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he went. 

He was married and added five children to the population, 

Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation, 

And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education. 

Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: 

Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard. 

w. H. AUDEN 

federal, state and local agencies. Not 
just law enforcement agencies, but 
employment, insurance, credit, and 
many other organizations are accorded 
ready access to this sensitive informa¬ 
tion. All too often, particularly in 
areas where police conduct general 
dragnet (or round-up) arrests of every¬ 
one in the vicinity of a supposed 
crime, these arrest records reflect no 

Many people feel that the fact an 
arrest has been made is a valuable 
piece of information. But we should 
remember that it only represents the 
judgement of one person—a police¬ 
man often acting on the spur of the 
moment on the basis of no more 
than strong suspicion that there may 
be probable cause to believe that the 
individual arrested may have com¬ 
mitted a crime. No magistrate has 
reviewed that hasty decision; there 
has been no arraignment; and neither 
judge nor jury has established guilt 
beyond a reasonable doubt after a 
fair trial. Yet this preliminary judge¬ 
ment by a policeman can haunt a 
citizen for the rest of his life. 

Most law-abiding citizens are 
tempted to take the complacent view: 
"Well, that could never happen to 
me/' But do you realize that the 
men in this audience stand a 50-50 
chance of being arrested sometime 


In September, Modern Data urged its 
readers to write on behalf of Eddie 
Allen, a Detroit sanitation worker for 
twenty years and the father of seven 
children, who was about to be extra¬ 
dited to Alabama to face charges of 
stealing his grandmother’s cow 32 years 
ago. Eddie was located after an FBI 
computer matched his name against a 
list of outstanding arrest warrants, and 
Eddie’s extradition was imminent al¬ 
though he had been living a crime-free 
life since the cow-stealing incident. 

We recently learned from Alabama 
Governor Wallace’s legal advisor that 
Governor Milligan of Michigan has de¬ 
clined to extradite Mr. Allen. We believe 
this action was due in part to the many 
Modern Data readers who took the time 
and trouble to add their letters to those 
of our own staff. To all of you, a sincere 
thank you from all of us, and from 
Eddie, his wife, and children. 

during their lifetimes? If you are a 
man living in a city, your chances of 
being arrested rise to sixty percent. 

If you happen to be black and live in 
a city, your chances of being arrested 
rise even further, to a whopping 
ninety percent. 

Once your arrest is recorded, your 
chances of being arrested again are 
very great. The police have your 
name, photograph and fingerprints. 
You are on their list of potential 
criminals to be questioned about and 
rearrested for subsequent unsolved 

Moreover, the potential adverse 
consequences of having an arrest 
record reach beyond the field of law 
enforcement. One survey in the New 
York area showed that seventy-five 
percent of the employment agencies 
in that area will not accept for referral 
applicants with arrest records. In 
addition to difficulties with finding 
employment, if you have an arrest 
record, you are likely to find getting 
insurance, credit and even a place to 
live extremely difficult. 

All of this can happen to you 
without your having broken any law, 
much less having been convicted in a 
Court of Law. It seems to me that 
this sort of deprivation of rights, 
liberties and opportunities without 
trial is the very sort of abuse which 
our Constitution's due process guar¬ 
antee were designed to prevent. The 
principle which is basic to our system 
of justice that man is innocent until 
tried and proven guilty seems to me 
to require stringent controls on the 
dissemination of information which 
can wreak such harm on the lives of 

I have long been in favor of legis¬ 
lation which would restrict the dis¬ 
semination by the FBI's computerized 
National Crime Information Center, 
or arrest records unaccompanied by 
some indication of the disposition of 
that arrest. In addition, it seems to 
me that even this information should 
be available only to those criminal 
justice agencies which can demonstrate 
that they need such arrest and dis¬ 
position records in order to carry out 
their law enforcement duties. Other 
organizations, businesses and the like 
should have no access to this kind of 
information which can be so damag¬ 
ing to the lives and liberties of inno¬ 
cent citizens. 

I am not for a moment suggesting 
that those who collect, computerize, 
and ever more widely distribute infor¬ 
mation on individuals, even damaging 
information such as arrest records, are 
acting out of ill-will or a desire to in¬ 
fringe the rights and interfere with 
the liberties of American citizens. I 
am certain that these officials feel 
that they are merely doing their jobs, 
which to them involve collecting the 
most possible information and mak¬ 
ing the widest possible use of it. The 
trouble is, human ingenuity is such 
that we can always think up reasons 
for needing to collect just one more 
bit of information. Once that infor¬ 
mation is collected some reason can 
always be found for sharing it with 

When I think about these ever- 
expanding computerized information 
systems, I am reminded of Justice 
Brandeis' warning that— 

"The greatest dangers to liberty 
lurk in insidious encroachment by 
men of zeal, well-meaning, but with¬ 
out understanding." 

It seems to me to be high time for 
those of us who care deeply about 
individual liberties to call a halt to 
this burgeoning information collec¬ 
tion and dissemination, unless and 
until the consequences of such collec¬ 
tion and dissemination on individual 
lives and liberties are taken fully into 
account. Otherwise, the ostensible 
need for this piece of information 
and that bit of data will gradually 
encroach on our privacy and indivi¬ 
duality until our control over infor¬ 
mation about ourselves is forever 
consigned to computers. 

Discussions such as we are having 
this evening about the impact com¬ 
puterized information systems can 
have on individual rights to privacy 
and justice under law represent an 
essential bulwark against such infringe¬ 
ments of human freedom. Our 
consciousness of and concern about 
the potential dangers to our cher¬ 
ished liberties is the best, and in the 
last analysis, perhaps the only pro¬ 
tection for our liberties. As the great 
jurist, Learned Hand once wrote: 

"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and 
women; When it dies there, no constitu¬ 
tion, no law, no court can save it. 

While it lies there, it needs no constitu¬ 
tion. no law. no court to save it.” 

The clamor by citizens and poli¬ 
ticians for greater police protection 
has all but obscured one of the 
decade’s most dramatic breakthroughs 
in criminal investigation. Where 
once police spent days or weeks 
tracking down leads, today the local 
patrolmen cruising a sleepy suburb 
or pounding a metropolitan pave¬ 
ment can be linked within seconds to 
detailed information on wanted 
felons or stolen articles—from any 
point in the nation. 

This new police bond is provided 
by the FBI’s National Crime Infor¬ 
mation Center (NCIC). A smoothly 
efficient, but little publicized, 
computerized memory bank, it 
contains more than 5 million details 
on suspects, fugitives, embez¬ 
zled securities, stolen cars, guns 
and personal property. 

From the control center at the 
FBI’s Washington headquarters, 
twin computers receive and transmit 
crime information over a national 
telecommunications network that ties 
in more than 1800 local police 
departments through 90 regional 
control terminals. 

The FBI says the system enables a 
policeman to query the memory 
bank and receive an answer within 
30 seconds—faster than the time it 
takes to write out a traffic ticket. 

The comparison has actually been 
proven. A West Virginia state 
policeman assigned to a radar unit, 
recently stopped a speeding car. As 
he got out of his cruiser, his partner 
radioed the license number to head¬ 
quarters, which in turn transmitted 
the information over the network to 
the FBI computer. Literally before 
the speeding summons was completed, 
word flashed back that the car had 
been stolen two days earlier in 

Another example of the speed and 
proficiency of the FBI’s robot cop 
came during a high-speed chase on 
the Pennsylvania Turnpike. As the 
state trooper closed in on the 
speeder, he called in the license 

The FBI says the system enables 
a policeman to query the memory 
bank and receive an answer within 
30 seconds—faster than the time it 
takes to write out a traffic ticket. 

number. Before the chase ended, he 
knew that the car was stolen and the 
driver was an escaped convict who 
was armed with a revolver taken 
in the burglary of a sporting goods 


A New Orleans detective arrested a 
drifter for disorderly conduct in a 
bar. Without the aid of the NCIC, 
he might have received a light fine 
and left town within a few days. 
Instead, the vagrant’s identification 
was routinely flashed to Washington 
as he was being booked. Before the 
desk sergeant completed the forms, a 
reply came: the suspect was wanted 
for murder in California. 

The NCIC, according to an FBI 
agent, “is currently handling 40,000 
'transactions’ daily.” That includes 
inquiries, new entries, cancellations 
and changes. “But,” he added, “we 
receive about 28,000 inquiries every 
day from all over the country and 
we’ve been able to average close to 
600 'hits’ daily.” 

The need for instant information 
is prompted by the modern crim¬ 
inal’s access to instant mobility, via 
jet service and the interstate high¬ 
way system. Before the NCIC was 
established, for instance, a thief 
could steal jewelry, a television set 
and a gun from a Boston apartment, 
load it all into a stolen car and, in 
less than ten hours, pawn the goods 
in Newark and use the gun to hold 
up a Philadelphia gas station. Or, 
with a little ingenuity, he could 
board a Los Angeles-to-New York 
jet, steal a car at LaGuardia Air¬ 
port, rob a Bridgeport Bank and 
catch a direct flight back to L.A. 
from Hartford—all within a day and 
often without a trace. There was 
just no way for local authorities to 
swiftly exchange suspects’ descrip¬ 
tions or serial numbers on stolen 
merchandise. If a murder weapon 
could not be traced locally, for 
instance, it would often require 
weeks or months of painstaking 
investigation before it could be 


The more information a policeman 
has before approaching a suspect or 
halting a speeding car, the safer he is 
going to be. FBI statistics show that 

FBI Breakthrough: 




Does it mean that anyone who 
has ever been arrested for speed¬ 
ing is now forever stamped in the 
NCIC’s computer memory? 

85 law enforcement agents were 
killed from 1960 to 1968, while 
investigating suspicious persons or as 
a result of ambush or confronting a 
deranged person—all situations 
where the policeman had no prior 
warning. In addition, the report 
notes that one out of eight police¬ 
men are assaulted annually. If an 
Iowa City patrolman knows that a 
recovered gun registered to a local 
man is being sought as the murder 
weapon in a Houston homicide, he 
can take the necessary precautions 
before approaching the owner. Or, 
if a Connecticut state trooper is 
alerted that the convertible he is 


Portions of a report by the Senate Sub¬ 
committee on Constitutional Rights, read 
into the Congressional Record during 
debate on the Senate Privacy Bill in 
1974, turned up the fact that applicants 
for federal jobs in some agencies have 
been subjected to such true/false 
questions as: 

“I am seldom troubled by constipation. . 
My sex life is satisfactory. . . 

At times I feel like swearing. . . 

I have never been in trouble because of 
my sex behavior. . . 

I do not always tell the truth. . . 

I have no difficulty in starting or holding 
my bowel movements. . . 

I am very strongly attracted by members 
of my own sex. . . 

I like poetry. . . 

I go to church almost every week. . . 

I believe in the second coming of 
Christ. . . 

I believe in a life hereafter. . . 

My mother was a good woman. . . 

I believe my sins are unpardonable. . . 

I have used alcohol excessively. . . 

I loved my Mother. . . 

I believe there is a God.” 

The portions were introduced into the 
record by Sen. Sam Ervin, the bill’s 
sponsor, as ‘‘showing the need for this 
(privacy) legislation.” 

chasing was used as a getaway car in 
a North Carolina bank robbery, he 
can radio for assistance before 
stopping the car. This immediate 
on-the-scene information not only 
speeds the apprehension of law¬ 
breakers, it also saves police lives. 

Just what kind of information 
does the NCIC provide? Does it 
mean that anyone who has ever been 
arrested for speeding is now forever 
stamped in the NCIC’s computer 
memory? Hardly, insists the FBI. 
Only felons or those who have 
committed serious misdemeanors are 
on file. Nor Is the system cluttered 
with records of all stolen items. The 
NCIC collects information on all 
stolen firearms and descriptions of 
stolen property worth at least $500, 
unless the item proves to be a key 
element of an investigation. For 
example, if a kidnap victim is wear¬ 

ing a $50 school ring, this informa¬ 
tion could lead to the whereabouts 
of the kidnapper. 


But the NCIC, like any computer- 
based system, is only as reliable as 
the information it receives. The FBI 
credits the local police departments 
and other law enforcement agencies 
throughout the country and notes 
that the success of the program 
depends upon their speed and accu¬ 
racy in reporting and updating 

“It also places more responsibility 
on the average citizen,” maintains 
an FBI agent, “to provide local 
authorities with accurate descriptions 
of lawbreakers or stolen property. 
The NCIC is a comprehensive team 

Computer Increasing Criminal 
Arrests by 10 percent 

RCA Government and Commercial Systems 

A computer normally used for scientific purposes has been credited by police 
authorities with increasing criminal arrests by 10 percent in Camden, N.J. 

Located at the RCA Advanced Technology Laboratories in Camden, the 
computer makes it possible to deploy police forces more efficiently by providing 
a weekly analysis of the location, day of week and hour that crimes are most 
likely to occur. 

“Computer runoffs, which are easy to interpret, make it possible to concen¬ 
trate police efforts in predicted high-crime areas during hours when crimes are 
most likely to occur,” according to Joseph Benton, who heads the crime-fighting 
computer program for the police. 

Recently, for example, the computer data indicated a high rate of larceny 
from automobiles was occurring in the vicinity of Rutgers University. Officers 
dispatched to the area placed notes on windshields of parked cars, asking drivers 
to help prevent thefts by keeping car doors locked. The result was a drop of 
more than 95 percent in larcenies from vehicles during the forecasted period. 

The weekly analysis produced by the computer is based on information 
programmed into it on offences that occurred during the previous two weeks. 
Evidence on each crime is broken down according to location, time, day of 
week, item stolen, mode of operation and details on the victim and perpetrator. 

A recent profile on purse snatching, for example, specified nine of the 43 
sectors of Camden in which they were predicted to occur, with the highest rate 
on Thursday and Friday, between the hours of noon and 4:00 p.m., and cur¬ 
rency as the prime target. Victims were listed as females, 30 years of age and 
upward, with attacks occurring chiefly at bus stops. The perpetrators generally 
were described as being under 18 years of age, ranging in height from five feet 
6 inches to 6 feet, and weighing between 121 and 140 pounds. 

The computer also produces special reports on request. These can include, 
for example, reports on the type of businesses most frequently burglarized dur¬ 
ing the summer months, the correlation between strongarm robberies and week 
of the month, type of item most often stolen from cars during the past two 
months, or any of hundreds of other combinations of crime factors. 



The seven-year history of computerized 
criminal history systems is essentially the 
history of a good idea gone astray. 

It serves as a good example of how, in 
the rush to computerize, early warnings 
of possible problems can be ignored. The 
results are evident today as legislators and 
others try to implement controls after the 
fact, controls that were forgotten in the 
early stages of the criminal history systems. 

The idea for computerized criminal 
histories was a direct outgrowth of the 
President’s Commission on Law Enforce¬ 
ment and the Administration of Justice’s 
1967 report entitled “The Challenge of 
Crime in a Free Society.” 

That report recommended increased 
emphasis on applying computer technology 
for both keeping track of criminal offen¬ 
ders and for tactically deploying criminal 
justice resources. 

However, in the criminal history area, 
the commission strongly recommended 
that special precautions were needed to 
protect the privacy of such records and 
recommended that all such information 
be kept solely at the state and local level 
to prevent any possible interference with 
the system by the executive branch on a 
national level. 

Project Search 

The initial implementation of a com¬ 
puterized criminal history system was 
undertaken by Project Search (System for 
Electronic Analysis and Retrieval of 
Criminal Histories) funded by the Law 
Enforcement Assistance Administration 

This $16 million demonstration project 
involved 20 states in the planning phases 
and established standard machine-readable 
forms for listing criminal histories. A 
smaller pilot project for exchanging crimi¬ 
nal history information had 10 state par¬ 
ticipants, even though only five states 
actually exchanged information through 
the system. 

In fact, most of those who did use the 
system did so only on a demonstration 
basis, with New York the only state to 
really use the system in an operational 

Under the Search plan there was to be 
only a national index of criminal history 
information with the majority of the in¬ 
formation to be held on the state level. 

Computer terminals in each state would 
submit information to the central index 
in abbreviated form. If a police officer 

queried the national system about a sus¬ 
pect, he would receive just the index 
information and would have to contact 
the originating state for details of the 
person’s record. 

Project Search was adamant on several 
points: The system should be primarily 
run on the local level with only a national 
index, preferably just on multistate offen¬ 
ders; the system should have definite 
safeguards to protect the privacy of indi¬ 
vidual records; and the system should 
be separate from the National Crime In¬ 
formation Center (NCIC) run by the FBI. 

However, in January of 1970 Attorney 
General John N. Mitchell decided to cen¬ 
tralize the system and place it under 
operational control of the FBI despite 
repeated objections of both the LEAA 
and the state officials involved in Project 

The addition of the Computerized 
Criminal History (CCH) system to the 
NCIC was a major departure. Until that 
point the NCIC had kept information 
only on wanted persons and six kinds of 
stolen merchandise: vehicles, license 
plates, securities, boats, guns and miscel¬ 
laneous items. There was no personal 
information except on persons actually 
wanted for a criminal offense. 

A typical use of the traditional NCIC 
system would be for a Michigan patrol car 
following a suspicious car with Florida 
license plates to radio headquarters asking 
for a check on the license number to see 
if the car was stolen. If it was, he would 
make an arrest. 

By necessity, the system was quick and 
easy to use, and there was little worry 
over privacy invasions. 

However, a problem arises with the de¬ 
centralized nature of the system in that 
local police are completely responsible 
for all data entry. For example, if a car is 
stolen in Lansing, Mich., and recovered in 
Bloomington, Ind., the Lansing police 
must add the listing to the file and the 
Bloomington police must remove it. 

Unfortunately, experience has shown 
that police are much quicker to add in¬ 
formation to the system than to delete 
it, and there have been several cases 
where car owners have been arrested for 
stealing their own cars due to a failure to 
update the records after recovery of the 
stolen vehicle. 

This was not considered to be a major 
problem until the criminal history files— 
which contain a notation of an individual’s 
every contact with the law—were added to 


NCIC. These files, usually called “rap 
sheets,” contain a record of every arrest, 
whether or not it leads to a conviction or 
even results in a trial. 

These files are obviously more sensitive 
than any of the other NCIC categories, 
yet the FBI originally did not plan to 
provide any increase in protection to these 

Today, with concern over the possible 
misuse of such files increasing, the bureau 
is moving in some limited areas (not 
sending criminal history information di¬ 
rectly to police cars, not giving out informa¬ 
tion over a year old to non-law enforcement 
agencies, etc.) but many critics contend 
these measures do not go far enough and 
are essentially patches on a poor system. 

Presently, there are no laws requiring 
states to update the files of criminal history 
information and the only penalty for not 
updating is exclusion from the system (as 
recently happened in New York [CW, 
July 3, 1974]). 

In addition, there are no penalties— 
either civil or criminal—for misuse of the 
information in the criminal history files 
and no legal requirements for purging the 
files as they become outdated. 

At the same time, many critics of the 
system feel it basically undermines the 
underlying principle of American jus¬ 
tice—that a person is innocent until proven 

These critics see no reason to store any 
information on arrests alone, unless that 
arrest is followed by a conviction for a 
crime. Alternatively, they would require 
that every entry in such a system at least 
contain the disposition data (found guilty, 
innocent, case dismissed or charge 
dropped) before it could be entered into 
the system. 

Most laws proposed to deal with the 
issues presently being debated would not 
go that far, but would rather allow a 
person the right to see a record and correct 
it, and would impose civil and criminal 
penalties for any misuse of the data in the 
records. In addition, most of the proposed 
laws would require police agencies to 
keep a record of users of the system for 
audit purposes and would legally require 
agencies to update the records. 

Whatever measures are finally adopted, 
it is clear that criminal history systems as 
they have evolved to date are grossly 
inadequate and that some new controls 
need to be legislated. 

Congress Puts 
the Computer 
to Work 

Nation’s Business 

That electronic whiz is tallying votes in 
the House, and performing lots of other 
chores not only on Capitol Hill but in 
nearly every federal agency 

This summer, campers headed for the 
six most popular national parks may 
not be accepted on a first-come-first- 
served basis as in the past. Instead, 
the federal government is planning to 
use a computer to handle reservations 
because of the heavy demand for 
camp sites. 

Addicts who check into most drug 
treatment centers have their foot¬ 
prints put on file in a federal com¬ 
puter for identification. This gives 
them more anonymity than they 
would enjoy if they were registered in 
the FBI's fingerprint file. 

Still another Washington com¬ 
puter, at the National Library of 
Medicine, is feeding valuable reference 
material to doctors, medical schools 
and hospitals across the country. 

Even in Congress, where members 
were slow in accepting electronic data 
processing, a computer is now being 
used to record votes in the House 
with the results flashed instantane¬ 
ously on large screens in the chamber. 
It has cut voting time in half for the 
435 members. 

Both the House and Senate are 
finding more and more ways in which 
EDP can cut down on the incalcu¬ 
lable time now spent to supply 
Congressional committees and indi¬ 
vidual members with information 
essential to carry out the lawmaking 

The House computer is now able, 
in seconds, to give a member the 
status of any bill introduced since the 
new Congress got under way in 
January. It can provide him with the 
daily legislative calendar via a special 
computer line to the Government 
Printing Office. 

"I can't tell you how much just 
these applications alone will save in 
reduced staff help, but it will be 
substantial," reports Rep. Wayne 
Hays (D. - Ohio), chairman of the 
House Administration Committee, 
which is responsible for computers in 
the House. "And we have many more 
time- and money-saving applications 
that will be introduced as we go 

One such innovation, now being 
installed, will enable each Congress¬ 
man to submit a list of 10,000 names 
to be stored in the computer in 
whatever categories he chooses. 

"In that way, if the member wants 

to make a special mailing, say, just to 
doctors or schoolteachers, the com¬ 
puter will draw only on these names," 
Congressman Hays explains. "You 
can't imagine what an improvement 
this is over the old Addressograph sys¬ 
tem of culling names and addresses." 


The man charged with the day-to-day 
operations of the House computer is 
former star quarterback Frank Ryan 
of the Cleveland Browns. Dr. Ryan, 
director of House Information Sys¬ 
tems, has a doctorate in mathematics. 
He supervised installation of the 
million-dollar voting system in the 

"The way I look at it you have to 
equate the needs of Congress with 
that of a large company or univer¬ 
sity," Dr. Ryan points out. "They 
have the proven tools. Think of the 
responsibilities of Congressmen— 
shouldn't Congress be equally well- 

Congressman Hays, who assumed 
chairmanship of the House Adminis¬ 
tration Committee two years ago, has 
urged expanded use of the House 
computer. But he is particularly 
proud of the electronic voting system 
whose acceptance he pushed among 
members convinced it would flop. 

"I had a Texas Congressman come 
up to me the other day and say, 
'Wayne, I've been here 20 years and 
this is the most sensible thing I've 
seen yet,'" the Ohioan reports. 

Automatic voting systems are not 
new, to be sure. Electro-mechanical 
systems of one form or another have 
been used in 36 state legislatures and 
several European countries. In fact, 
Thomas Edison was granted a patent 
for a vote recorder more than a 
century ago. 

During floor debate last year, Rep. 
Robert McClory (R.-Ill.), who au¬ 
thored the bill to install the system 
now in use, said: 

"Ever since 1914 there have been 
recommendations of one kind or 
another for some kind of automatic 
voting here in the House. While the 
accurate reporting of votes is vital to 
this body, it is unfortunate that we 
have waited this long to install 
modern electronic equipment to 
more accurately and more expedi- 

tiously record our attendance and our 

Such voting systems are not always 
universally embraced, for one reason 
or another. The New York State 
Legislature spent $300,000 to install 
electronic voting in 1965 and later 
voted to have it removed. 

Some say it was abolished because 
it didn't prove efficient. But others 
contend that some legislative leaders 
felt they could influence voting more 
effectively with the slower, voice¬ 
voting method, which allows them 
more time to act when trends are 
spotted in the early stages of balloting. 

But in the national House of 
Representatives, such apprehensions, 
if they existed, have given way to 
wholehearted support, according to 
both Congressman Hays and Dr. 


Each member is issued a plastic 
coded identification card which he 
can use to vote at any one of 44 
stations. A Yea vote registers green 
by his name on a panel running 
along the wall behind the Speaker's 
rostrum. A Nay vote is red, while 
amber indicates a vote of Present. 

Panels on two balcony fronts keep 
a running tally of votes and time 
remaining for casting them. A mem¬ 
ber has 15 minutes to vote, the 
amount of time required to reach the 
chamber from some of the remote 
House offices. 

A member who loses or misplaces 
his card still can vote by signifying 
his vote orally to a tally clerk who, 
in turn, registers the member's vote 
on a small console at his desk. The 
system is foolproof in that it won't 
permit a member to cast more than 
one vote on a single measure. 

The Senate has found no need to 
put in a similar system. As one 
Senate official put it: 

''We can run through a voice vote 
almost as fast as a computer. And we 
can find other places to spend a 
million dollars." 

But the Senate, like the House, 
relies on the computer for a variety 
of other services. 

Both have instituted modern 
budgetary management techniques 
with the help of EDP, using it in 
preparing payrolls, handling personnel 
records and making purchases. 

Records of campaign contributions to 

‘“Vote for a computer-competent 
Congressman!’ may well be one of 
the common campaign slogans of 
the year 2000.” 

Senators and Representatives are 
filed away in computers. 

And new ways to put computers 
to work are being studied in both 
branches of Congress. 

Senators and Congressmen will 
find themselves more and more 
dependent on the computer in the 
years ahead. The sheer complexity of 
their work, coupled with the de¬ 
mands of constituents in these days 
of rapid communications, will demand 

Congressman Hays, for example, 
believes the appropriations machinery 
on Capitol Hill has become so intri¬ 
cate that only a computer can pro¬ 
vide members with the kind of 
information they need for decision¬ 

Looking further down the legisla¬ 
tive road, one Congressman thinks 
tomorrow's legislator will be inextric¬ 
ably wired into a computer way of 
life. Rep. John Brademas (D.-Ind.), 
who also is a member of the House 
Administration Committee, wrote a 
paper in 1969 in which he projected 

a view of the Congressman of the 
year 2000. 


This Twenty-first Century lawmaker 
will have at his desk a keyboard 
console that will enable him to tap a 
vast amount of legal, economic, fiscal 
and other information. 

He will have a two-way video 
linkup with other members, with the 
Executive Office of the President, 
agency heads, laboratories, state- 
houses and universities. 

He will be able to determine at 
the touch of a button the impact of 
tax proposals on the level of employ¬ 
ment, the gross national product, 
and the precise inflows of revenues 
into the Treasury. The computer will 
give him information on federal 
contract awards, lobbyists and the 
current price of tea in China. 

There will be "tele-mobile" units 
for communication between his office 
and that of fellow Congressmen. It 
will include a "scrambler" to permit 
transmission of sensitive data. 

"'Vote for a computer-competent 
Congressman!' may well be one of 
the common campaign slogans of the 
year 2000," Rep. Brademas says. 

Computers Help Fight Fires in Scotland 


Glasgow, Scotland plans to link its fire engines with a computer to fight 
blazes more efficiently. Small facsimile printers installed in the cabs of 
40 fire engines will receive by radio and print out detailed information on 
floor plans of the burning building and its known fire hazards while the 
firemen are on their way to battle the blaze. 

George Cooper, Glasgow's firemaster, said the Honeywell system is believed 
to be the most advanced fire-fighting system of its kind in the world. He said 
his crews "will both be better equipped to tackle the job and their safety 
better protected." 

The system, based on two Honeywell 316 computers due to be installed in 
June or July, will ultimately contain data on 10,000 properties. The informa¬ 
tion, to be updated daily, would include building plans and layouts, known 
hazardous materials in the building, and a special file of 1,000 hazar¬ 
dous substances and how to handle them in the case of fire. 

Glasgow intends later to link 400 fire alarm boxes directly to the computer. 
When an alarm is signalled the computer would dispatch the nearest fire 
crew directly, without any human intervention. 

The City 

and the Computer 



The dawn of computing 

Let us consider a municipal govern¬ 
ment of a city of one million people 
in the year 1975. The chances are 
that our government is much better 
qualified and less corrupt than its 
predecessor was forty years ago. The 
chances are, also, that it is much 
more bewildered. 

In order to make intelligent deci¬ 
sions, we must first of all have reli¬ 
able data. GiVen the complexity and 
mobility of a modern city of one 
million people, the gathering and 
interpretation of data is an almost 
hopeless task. And as our citizens be¬ 
come more affluent, they expect more 
and better services, which aggravates 
the problem. 

What is the value of a census 
taken every ten years? By the time 
the census is processed, 10 per cent 
of the population will have changed 
its residence. By the time a new 
school is planned, approved by the 
voters, and actually constructed, it is 
hopelessly overcrowded. By the time 
a major highway is completed, the 
flow of traffic has changed com¬ 
pletely. Efficient use of high-speed 
computers may not solve all these 
problems, but solutions to the prob¬ 
lems are impossible without the use 
of computers. 

Municipal governments use computers 
only for statistics 

Industry has been much more aware 
of these problems, and has taken 
better advantage of the existence of 
modern computers. Many industries 
now keep their personnel files and 
business data in the memories of 
computers and use these for fast and 
accurate data-processing. The same 
information may also be processed for 
planning purposes. Although some 
municipal governments are beginning 
to realize the significance of com¬ 
puters, generally they are used only 
for such simple tasks as the issuing 
of pay checks. And even when com¬ 
puters are available, most of the 
employees have no understanding of 
the use of computers, and therefore 
fail to take full advantage of this 
incredible tool. 

Computers will not have a signifi¬ 
cant effect on our city governments 
until our colleges bring up a new 
generation of graduates who take 
high-speed computers for granted. 
Fortunately, some of our best institu¬ 
tions are doing exactly this. At my 
own institution, 80 per cent of each 
entering class learns how to use a 
computer, and many acquire a signifi¬ 
cant amount of experience before 
they graduate. When some of these 
students filter into our municipal 
governments, we can look forward to 
a revolution in city planning. 

Our city and state highway depart¬ 
ments collect immense amounts of 
information on the flow of traffic. 

But what happens to this mass of 
information once it is collected? A 
few able men, perhaps with a great 
deal of experience, will come up 
with rules-of-thumb for the improve¬ 
ment of the flow of traffic. Although 
this is certainly worth-while, it is 
far from what is possible in the age 
of computers. 

Simulation could provide five years’ 
experience in one week 
It would be possible to simulate the 
entire traffic pattern of downtown 
Manhattan by a high-speed computer. 
("Simulation 7 ' is a powerful tool, 
widely used by business, to re-create 
within a computer a fairly accurate 
image of what happens in the outside 
world—see [6] in the References.) 
Built into the model would be infor¬ 
mation on the number of cars, the 
speed at which they travel under 
various conditions of crowding, the 
available traffic lights, one-way streets, 
habits of double parking, and the 
like. Once such a model exists, 
experimentation with new traffic 
patterns could be carried out within 
the computer rather than using the 
population of the city as guinea pigs. 
We could instruct the computer to 
change the operation of traffic lights, 
modify oneway streets, and try other 
innovations. After a detailed simula¬ 
tion the computer would report back 
whether there was any significant 
easing in the flow of traffic. With 
one week of computer simulation we 
could acquire the equivalent of five 
years 7 experience. Such a simulation 
planning model in the hands of 
experts would make a tremendous 

impact in relieving notorious traffic 

This idea has been tried on a 
small scale in planning the traffic of 
superhighways, bridges, and tunnels. 
One such experiment was reported in 
Scientific American (see [3]). The 
computer found that cars should not 
be allowed to enter the Holland 
Tunnel as quickly as the toll booths 
could process them. If, instead, cars 
were held up periodically for a short 
time, the total flow through the 
tunnel increased! Presumably this is 
due to the fact that "pulsing” the 
cars prevents major jams and reduces 
accidents. But no one suggested this 
simple improvement before the 
computer simulation. 

Secondly, high-speed computers 
should be used in the fight against 
pollution. The causes of pollution are 
complex, and careful statistical 
analysis should be substituted for 
guesswork. I predict that a major 
data-gathering and analysis would 
turn up unexpected results. 

Thirdly, consider the problem of 
planning schools, parks, recreation 
areas, youth centers, and centers for 
the aged. Of course, such decisions 
are often political footballs. But, 
even with the best intentions, such 
decisions are made in ignorance of 
the facts; although the facts may be 
buried in the files, without high¬ 
speed computers the planning body 
cannot digest them. For example, 
where should we place a park to do 
the most good for the city's children? 
This decision requires a careful cor¬ 
relation of the distribution of chil¬ 
dren with the city's geography, and 
with the size and location of existing 
parks. The solution of this problem 
requires both up-to-date census 
information and the sophisticated use 
of computers. 

Our municipal governments have 
hardly begun to make intelligent use 
of the computer revolution. The hir¬ 
ing of computer experts and acquisi¬ 
tion of large computing centers for 
planning purposes could be the single 
best investment to help alleviate our 
urban problems. 

Computer would be a powerful tool to 
fight organized crime 

A very common problem is the iden¬ 
tification of a car from inaccurate 

information. Suppose that a witness 
notes that the license is GA46—, and 
that the car was large, fairly new, and 
either dark blue or dark green. The 
time-sharing system could easily 
handle such an inquiry. It would find 
in its memory the 100 license num¬ 
bers starting with “GA46,” and 
match each against the partial 
description. Within a minute it could 
type out complete descriptions of the 
dozen or so possible suspect cars—and 
would type this at the local police 
station. The result would be both 
a great increase in police efficiency 
and a relief for our overworked police 
forces. I understand that such a 
system has actually been contem¬ 
plated by the Los Angeles Police 
Department, but—to the best of my 
knowledge—it has not yet been 
implemented anywhere. 

Naturally, one must ask whether 
such a system would involve astro¬ 
nomical costs. However, I have 
sketched out the technical details, 
and I estimate that the entire opera¬ 
tion could be financed by an annual 
charge of one dollar on motor vehi¬ 
cles. Thus, my proposal is entirely 

And once such a system is in 
operation, it would facilitate other 
operations. The motor vehicle bureau 
could have its own terminals which 
would automatically, and instanta¬ 
neously, record each new registration 
issued. And the various police forces 
in the state could pool their criminal 
records within the memory of the 
machine. Identification of criminal 

suspects could be expedited by a 
procedure similar to the one outlined 
above. And if the criminal files of the 
states and the federal government 
were tied together by a computer 
network, we would have the most 
powerful tool imaginable to fight 
organized crime. 

Traffic jams would be 
almost eliminated 

Equally exciting is the possibility of 
real-time control of traffic. Even if 
computers are used for the planning 
of traffic patterns, we know that the 
plans will go haywire under unusual 
circumstances. I have often waited an 
unreasonable amount of time at a 
traffic light, when there was no traffic 
on the crossstreet, but my street was 
jammed up. Under sufficiently bad 
circumstances, the city will station a 
policeman at the corner, who can 
make corrections manually. A much 
more efficient, and less expensive, 
solution would be the use of a time¬ 
sharing computer to control the 
lights. It could be informed of cur¬ 
rent traffic densities by means of 
electronic devices, and could adjust 
the lights according to need. And it 
could do this for a thousand traffic 

Similarly, it is ludicrous to allow 

Computers will not have a signifi¬ 
cant effect on our city governments 
until our colleges bring up a new 
generation of graduates who take 
high-speed computers for granted. 

Our municipal governments have 
hardly begun to make intelligent 
use of the computer revolution. 
The hiring of computer experts 
and acquisition of large comput¬ 
ing centers for planning purposes 
could be the single best invest¬ 
ment to help alleviate our urban 

more traffic to pour into a jammed 
highway. Traffic lights at all the en¬ 
trances of a limited access road, con¬ 
trolled on the basis of real-time traffic 
information, could make a significant 


A computer in every home 

While some of the uses of computers 
suggested so far may seem dramatic 
in their conception or their possible 
impact, they will yield only relief for 
the symptoms of urban disease. For a 
cure we will have to wait for the 
next development in the computer 

By 1990 the principal public 
utility will be a gigantic communica¬ 
tion network, including the means 
for visual communication, and having 
a network of huge computers as an 
integral part. I expect to see not only 
every office tied to this network, but 
to see a console in every home. I 
have discussed elsewhere some of 
the implications of having access to a 
computer in every home (see [5]). I 
would now like to do the same for 
the implications of the new utility 
for the role of the city. 

One may classify the principal 
functions of the city under five cate¬ 
gories: (1) It is the home of millions 
of people. (2) It is a manufacturing 
center. (3) It is a center of trade. 

(4) It is a center of finance. (5) It is a 
center of recreation. The worst prob¬ 
lems of the city arise not from the 
fact that millions live there, but 
that the other four functions attract 
vast numbers of nonresidents to the 
city. I shall argue that by 1990 most 
of the reasons for this influx can be 

City as center of trade and 
finance will decline 

The role of the cities as centers of 
manufacture has been steadily de¬ 

creasing in importance. As costs of 
transportation decrease and overhead 
costs in large cities continue to 
increase, manufacturing centers—like 
the population—are deserting our 
largest cities. And we have every 
reason to expect that this trend will 
continue. As a matter of fact, the 
trend will be accelerated in the 
immediate future when cities begin 
to take effective measures to combat 

Even today the major role of the 
city is not as a manufacturing center, 

but as a center of trade and finance. 
And the nature of these functions is 
also subtly changing. I claim that the 
major role of the city is not that of 
processing or exchanging goods, but 
rather that of exchanging information. 
And this trend is being greatly accel¬ 
erated by the coming of computers. 

An interesting symptom is the dis¬ 
appearance of money (cash) from 
everyday transactions. Major busi¬ 
nesses have for a long time not needed 
cash to deal with each other. And 
the wide use of checks and credit 

Campsite Reservation 

JUNE 13, 1974 

The National Park Service announced today that vacationers can begin reserv¬ 
ing campsites in twenty-one national parks by telephoning the toll-free number, 
800 XXX-XXXX. 

In some of the parks 100 percent of the campsites can be reserved by tele¬ 
phone, so users are advised not to try the parks on busy periods without 
reservations. The computerized reservation system will be handled by Park 
Reservation System, Inc., a new corporation, awarded a five-year contract. 

Park authorities said this new reservation system should prevent much of the 
uncertainty and heartbreak of the old first-come-first-served basis. 

JULY 21, 1974 

Three weeks ago the National Park Service inaugurated a telephone reservation 
system for campsites in a number of parks under its jurisdiction. The NPS is 
now advising travelers to write, not phone, for reservations. The reason is the 
overloading of phone lines due to the instant popularity of the new system. 

You must have your plans at least fourteen days in advance, says Jerry D. 
Wagers, director of Park Service. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to 
Park Reservation System in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Include name, address, type 
of site wanted, dates and a check to cover camping fees and the $2.00 reserva¬ 
tion fee. 

AUGUST 29, 1974 

The National Park Service announced today that it was abandoning its reserva¬ 
tion system for national park campsites. The present contract with Park Reser¬ 
vation System was terminated today and all campsites would return to the 
first-come-first-served basis. 

Senator Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) held hearings on the deluge of 
complaints from campers about the park reservation system. Reservations 
weren't acknowledged, others were lost, and local park managers had no accu¬ 
rate record of who did or did not have park reservations. Thus, campers never 
knew if they did really have confirmed reservations or not and even confirmed 
reservation holders sometimes found out their reservations were no good. 

Hearings brought out the fact that the National Park Service Director, 
Ronald H. Walker, was a close friend of Donald Middleton, PRS president, 
who received the reservation contract. Also the company was newly set up for 
this purpose and had no experience in the computer reservation business. Other 
experienced companies capable of providing the service had been turned down. 
Senator Metzenbaum said “I believe our investigation of Park Reservation 
System, Inc., has amply demonstrated the poor quality of service it has pro¬ 
vided for campers and the fact it should never have been selected to provide 
the service in the first place." 

Automobile Ombudsmen Possible? 


by Herb Grosche 

There is a mysterious world of state 
motor vehicle offices, Soundex coding, 
data bank pointers, traffic courts, auto¬ 
mobile and truck numbering systems, 
recall orders, NCIC (National Crime Infor¬ 
mation Center) terminals that interests 
and affects all of us. We all drive, most of 
us own cars, most of us have had acci¬ 
dents and traffic tickets, some of us have 
had cars stolen. Many of us move from 
state to state, changing driving licenses 
and car plates as we go. 

The recent concern for privacy in all 
kinds of official and private data systems 
has begun to open up that world to the 
bemused gaze of DP people and civil 
liberties advocates. And along with past 
and present computerization, along with 
future plans for on-line improvement and 
interfacing with other installations and 
networks, has come the urge to reexamine 
the social underpinnings of car and driver 
information systems. 

The HEW report, “Records, Computers 
and the Rights of Citizens,” contains in 
Appendix D a conspectus of the National 
Driver Register, a subterranean function 
of the U.S. Department of Transportation 
which enables state motor vehicle ad¬ 
ministrations to check driver license 
applications against suspensions and re¬ 
vocations in other states. 

Changes are proposed in that system; it 
is proposed that prospective employers 
(of taxi or truck drivers, in theory, but 
probably of much broader categories, in 
practice) have access to the register. It is 
proposed that medical and physical limita¬ 
tion pointers be added. It is proposed 
that pointers to conviction records which 
did not result in a suspension or revoca¬ 
tion be added. And of course, it is proposed 
to provide sophisticated on-line response 
capability instead of the present 24-hours- 
plus-mail-time; consultants always want 
follow-up contracts! 

Vehicle identification numbers (VIN) 
are required on state registration forms, 
and are also vital (since they include a 
serial number) for manufacturer recalls 
when safety defects are to be corrected. 

The National Highway Safety Administra¬ 
tion has required manufacturers to list the 
VINs of cars which are not brought in 
for correction: now these lists are to be 
provided to insurance companies. Will the 
latter attempt to avoid payment of damages 
to owners whose cars are listed? If not, 
why do the companies want the lists? Or 
do they: perhaps the bureaucrats are just 
being righteous? 

Bum dope in all such systems is supposed 
to be corrected, old stuff is supposed to 
be purged. Is it? We cannot know, be¬ 
cause unless the HEW report recommenda¬ 
tions are implemented—implemented in 
every state DMV as well as at the register- 
no outside probe of the data is permitted. 
A driver license applicant cannot contact 
the register directly; inquiry can be made 
on his behalf by the state agency con¬ 
cerned, but what if they don’t want to 
bother, or are too busy? 

Power to Punish 

And there is a great temptation to use 
the interconnect capabilities of machine 
systems, batch as well as on-line, to en¬ 
force and to punish. Years ago I got a 
jaywalking ticket in downtown Los An¬ 
geles, a municipal offense, and of the very 
lowest level of seriousness: a “violation,” 
not a misdemeanor or a felony. My car 
was blocks away. Asked to show “some 
kind of identification,” I produced a New 
York credit card. 

A year later I was coolly notified by the 
State of California that my driver’s license 
would not be renewed until I settled my 
jaywalking summons. Obviously the 
Sacramento DMV had been asked by 
a municipal court clerk to check whether 
I had a California license, and a com¬ 
puter-originated form letter was dis¬ 
patched. The licensing power of the state 
motor vehicle office was being used to 
cheaply dragoon a person accused of a 
completely nonvehicular offense. 

Now, extrapolate that to a future in 
which any employer (and that can be 
anyone who prints up a letterhead), any 

insurance company, any court or proba¬ 
tion officer, any policeman can query 
data held in the National Driver Register, 
follow pointers to further data in any 
state and many local driver-license and 
vehicle-license data bank, and use that 
data to harass and intimidate, to with¬ 
hold or withdraw job offers, to refuse or 
revoke insurance coverage, to require 
expensive repairs. 

Some of those queries would be illegal 
in all states now, and all of them would 
be illegal in some states. They certainly 
occur, as routine procedure, as personal 
favors, or corruptly, up and down the 
U.S.—have occurred in the past, will occur 
much more easily and frequently in the 

If we believe the protestations of the 
FBI and the NCIC people (and I don’t), if 
we believe the protestations of the regis¬ 
ter people (well, maybe), innocent citi¬ 
zens are hardly ever injured by such files, 
computers and networks. 

They would be glad to correct indivi¬ 
dual injustices, they say, meanwhile 
struggling fairly openly against letting in¬ 
dividuals get anywhere near their central 
operations. “Go to your friendly local 
DMV office, your friendly local police 
station,” they say. For a well-off white 
male with gray crew cut hair to do this in 
Santa Barbara is certainly possible; for a 
poor young black with a bush Afro to get 
help in downtown Philadelphia is some¬ 
thing else again. 

I believe we need an extension of the 
ombudsman concept in this area. Putting 
aside the various automobile associations 
as hopelessly perverted, discounting news¬ 
paper and radio station hot lines as sparse 
and poorly motivated, and remembering 
ACM’s financial problems, it looks like 
the Civil Liberties Union sort of job. Since 
they have so much really heavy stuff on 
their plate right now, I wonder if a new 
outfit, a Drivers and Car Owners Protec¬ 
tive Association, might not be viable? 
With terminals connected to all the adver¬ 
sary data banks, I hope? We’re going to 
need it. 

cards means that we have almost com¬ 
pletely changed over from monetary 
exchanges to exchanges of information. 
In the age of the computer-communi¬ 
cation utility, cash will completely 
disappear. When homes, stores, 
offices, and banks are linked through 
computers, one need only enter a 
transaction through the nearest con¬ 

sole, and two bank accounts will be 
automatically credited or debited 
(see, for example, [2]). 

Similarly, banks will be able to 
implement an automatic credit sys¬ 
tem—a modern version of the British 
"overdraft/' And even the most 
complex banking transactions could 
be handled by a one-room local bank 

which, through the computer network, 
has access to all the files of the 
central bank, and perhaps to a na¬ 
tional credit-rating system. 

Or consider the operation of the 
stockmarket. Even today a "ticker- 
tape" network keeps brokers all over 
the country informed about the 
market. Why not replace this with a 

By 1990 the principal public utility 
will be a gigantic communication 
network, including the means for 
visual communication, and having 
a network of huge computers as 
an integral part. 

modern computer network that will 
allow all of these brokers to partici¬ 
pate actively in the market? Through 
a time-sharing system they could not 
only be kept informed, but could 
enter bids and conclude sales instan¬ 
taneously. After all, the stockmarket 
is nothing more than a gigantic 
information-exchange center, whose 
function could be fulfilled by a large 

Similar remarks apply to the large 
office-complexes maintained by busi¬ 
nesses in our cities. Their major role 
is the collection, exchange, and pro¬ 
cessing of information. This could be 
handled by a hub of the computer- 
communication network. Why must 
all the executive and secretarial staff 
have their offices in the same location? 
Presumably for ease of access to the 
information and because face-to-face 
meetings are useful. But in the not- 
so-distant future, any branch office 
will have easy, instantaneous access to 
all files. And video-phones will make 
most personal meetings unnecessary. 
Then a hundred conveniently located, 
specialized branches will operate 
efficiently as a single large company. 

Such a trend is visible even today 
in retail trade. Mailorder houses lo¬ 

cate their “central office" wherever 
they please, and large retail firms 
have their outlets distributed among 
a hundred shopping centers. When 
the new utility makes is possible for 
the housewife to “search" stores 
from her own home, by means of 
computer information-processing and 
video displays, another major reason 
for the influx into cities will disappear. 

Even in the area of recreation the 
participants need not go to the place 
from which the entertainment origin¬ 
ates. We note that a professional 
football game which has fifty thou¬ 
sand spectators is watched by fifty 
million people on television. And 
educational television is bringing 
adult education into the home. At 
the moment, unfortunately, television 
allows only passive participation in 
education and entertainment, but the 
new utility may even reverse this 
dangerous trend. For example, a 
woman taking a television course may 
do research by means of her home 


I see the city of 1990 as a gigantic 
depository of information, as a major 
node in the computer-communication 
network, and as a source of education 
and entertainment. Tens of millions 
living in surrounding small towns will 
have continual access to these 
services by means of computers, tele¬ 

vision, and video-phones. But they 
will not have to go to the city. 

I see New York City in 1990 as 
the home of the technicians who 
service the information-education- 
recreation functions, and of the rich 
who insist on seeing operas and 
football games in person. It may also 
be a nice place to escape to when the 
pressures of suburban or rural life are 
too much with us. 


[1] Oscar Handlin and John Bur- 
chard (eds.). The Historian and 
the City. Cambridge, Mass.: 
M.I.T. Press, 1963. 

[2] A. H. Anderson et al. An Elec¬ 
tronic Cash and Credit System. 
New York: American Manage¬ 
ment Association, 1966. 

[3] R. Herman and K. Gardels. 
“Vehicular Traffic Flow," 
Scientific American , Vol. 209, 
No. 6 (December 1963), pp. 

[4] Raymond Vernon, The Chang¬ 
ing Economic Function of the 
Central City. New York: Com¬ 
mittee for Economic Develop¬ 
ment, January 1959. 

[5] The Future Impact of Computers. 
Proceedings of a conference at 
Dartmouth College, General 
Learning (forthcoming). 

[6] John G. Kemeny. Random 
Essays , Part III: “Computers." 
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice- 
Hall, 1964. 


boston— Several state policemen are 
under grand jury investigation here for 
allegedly selling criminal history material 
to private investigators who in turn turned 
it over to credit reporting agencies, it 
was learned last week. 

The investigation is the first to be made 
under the Massachusetts law protecting 
the privacy of such information and fol¬ 
lows a long probe by the governor’s office 
and the state police, sources close to the 
investigation said. 

The law established an audit trail on 
the requests for criminal history informa¬ 
tion from the computerized files, which 
gave the investigators the first indication 
that the files might be being abused, the 
sources said. 

From the audit trail, the sources said, it 
was seen that several state policemen 
were apparently requesting an inordinate 

number of criminal histories—more than 
they would normally need for the per¬ 
formance of their duties. 

This information was turned over to 
the director of the state police and the 
state police internal investigations unit, 
which monitored the use of the system 
and the activities of the policemen alleg¬ 
edly involved in the plot. 

Apparently, one source said, the state 
policemen were selling the files to friends 
who were private investigators, who in 
turn were turning the files over to large 
credit granting agencies such as depart¬ 
ment stores in the Boston area. 

The results of the investigation have 
now been turned over to a grand jury 
which is expected to act on the matter in 
the near future. 

However, the case points to a weakness 
in the law, several sources said last week, 

in that only the policemen can be prose¬ 
cuted under the present law because 
possession of criminal histories is not a 

Amendment Due? 

Therefore, it is likely that an amend¬ 
ment will be offered to make the “know¬ 
ing” possession of such documents illegal, 
which would make prosecutions easier 
against private investigators and others 
who might try to get police agencies to 
turn over the files for private use. 

However, it was also learned that 
several large private investigating agen¬ 
cies are mounting a campaign to get legal 
authorization to have access to such files— 
a move that “would make a mockery of 
the law” if adopted, according to one 


Bigelow, Robert P., ed. Computers and the Law. Chicago: 
Commerce Clearing House, 1969. 

The Computer and Invasion of Privacy. U.S. Government 
Printing Office, 1966. 

Greenberger, Martin. Computers , Communications , and the 
Public Interest. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins 
Press, 1971. 

Freed, Roy N. Materials and Cases on Computers and Law. 
Boston, Mass.: Boston University Bookstore. 


1. Income tax returns are usually first checked by com¬ 
puter for errors and possible auditing. Find out as much 
as possible about how the computer decides a return 
should be audited. What percentages does the IRS 
consider excessive for the different types of deductions? 
Since a computer is used to audit the returns, could 
one be used to prepare false returns? 

2. Describe a more effective system for the expression of 
political preference using computers instead of the 
present voting system. 

3. Write a paper on the impact of computers in one of 
the following areas: 

a) politics 

b) education 

c) business 

d) libraries 

e) your choice 

4. Imagine you work for a law-enforcement office. Your 
sister is running for a political office. She has asked you 
to research the background of a political opponent to 
see if you can find any “dirt” on the opponent. Where 
would you start? Which records are computerized? As a 
police officer, which records would you have available 
that others would not? Are there any laws to prohibit 
you from disclosing any of the information? How effec¬ 
tive are they? 

5. Does your community have a computerized vote count¬ 
ing system? Find out as much as possible about how it 
works. Do you consider it foolproof or vulnerable to 
“vote tampering?” 

6. Computers are used by law-enforcement agencies to 
keep “rap sheets” (arrest records, convictions, intelli¬ 
gence information, and so forth). Develop a set of rules 
about what type of information can be stored, for how 
long, and who can put in, delete, change, and see 

7. How does your local government use computers? What 
other computer functions could be added? Obtain a 
tour of a local governmental data-Drocessinp center. 

Janda, Kenneth. Information Retrieval , Applications to 
Political Science. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 
Inc., 1968. 

Laudon, Kenneth. Computers and Bureaucratic Reform. 
New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1974. 

Weston, Alan F. Data Banks in a Free Society. New York: 
Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Company, 1972. 

Whisenand, Paul M., and Tug T. Tarmaru. Automated 
Police Information Systems. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 
Inc., 1970. 

Wilson, Andrew. The Bomb and the Computer. New York: 
Delacorte Press, 1968. 

Find out exactly what information is stored. Are any 
social issues raised by these files? Find out what com¬ 
puter files you can obtain. For example, will the gov¬ 
ernment sell your address listings, voting registration 
lists, real estate records, and so forth? 

8. What advantages and disadvantages does a computer- 
based law enforcement system have for the law-abiding 

9. Most states keep track of traffic violations by using 
computers. Find out as much as possible about com¬ 
puterized motor vehicle files in your state. 

10. Find out exactly what information the different levels 
of government—local, state, federal—have about you. 
Next determine what you can see about yourself and 
what others can see. 

11. You are driving along a deserted freeway. You are in a 
hurry to get home, and there is no other traffic, so you 
go fifteen miles an hour over the speed limit. The next 
day you get a letter in the mail from the police that 
states whoever was driving your car was speeding and is 
due in court. The traffic offence had been observed by 
an electronic device that measured the car's speed, 
noted the license number, and relayed the information 
to the police computer. The police computer looked 
up the name and address of the license plate holder 
from its storage files and printed out the violation 
notice. Find out how difficult it would be to do this 
with present computer technology. Do you think it 
would be a good or bad policy to implement this type 
of system? Why? 

12. Should computers be used to make politicians instantly 
aware of popular opinion of political issues? Why or 
why not? 

13. Write a report on one of the following: 

a) use of computers in political campaigns 

b) use of computers in congress 

c) use of computers bv the Executive branch 



for the 


For an expert bent on crime, it seems, 
cracking a computer system’s defenses 
is about as difficult as doing a hard 
Sunday crossword puzzle. 

One morning last September, a com¬ 
puter operator on duty at Honeywell 
Information Systems Inc. in Phoenix 
was startled to see the output printer 
on his console start up all by itself. 
Out rattled a message referring deri¬ 
sively to a recent Honeywell press 
release about the company's vaunted 
new computer system, called "Mul¬ 
tics." When it was done sniping at 
Multics, the mysterious message 
signed off with the words "ZARF 
is with you again." 

ZARF is the code designation for 
part of a joint project of the U.S. 

Air Force and MITRE Corp., a 
defense-research outfit. The project is 
concerned with computer security, 
and a favorite pastime of people 
involved in it is cracking "uncrack- 
able" computers. The day before the 
Honeywell computer acted up, two 
ZARF men, Air Force Major Roger 
Schell and Steven Lipner of MITRE, 
visited Honeywell to look over the 
security features of prospective sys¬ 
tems for classified Air Force computing 
chores. After seeing the press release 
about Multics, Lipner quietly placed 
a long-distance call to a ZARF col¬ 
league, Lieutenant Paul Karger, in 
Massachusetts, nearly 3,000 miles 
away. Karger, in turn, sat down at his 
teletypewriter computer terminal, 
dialed into Honeywell's private 
Multics system, and typed in a few 
subtle instructions that subverted 
every one of the system's safeguards, 
giving Karger effective control. 

The ZARF prank was particularly 
embarrassing because Multics is de¬ 
signed with security as an uppermost 
consideration. Of all large commercial 
computers on the market, Multics 
probably incorporates the most elab¬ 
orate safeguards against unauthorized 


The kind of vulnerability indicated 
by ZARF's little joke is beginning to 
disturb the keepers of modern elec- 
tronic-data-processing systems. Most 
EDP systems consist of one or more 
large, multipurpose computers and 
banks of stored data, usually accessible 
via telephone circuits from individual 
terminals such as the teletypewriter 
that Lieutenant Karger used. Until 
not long ago, computer manufacturers 
and users saw little reason to fear 
that an unscrupulous person at one 

terminal would be able to read, alter, 
or delete another user's data, or 
tamper with the intricate programs 
that manipulate this data. 

But in the past year or two, even 
the manufacturers have more or less 
come to acknowledge that it is not 
really very difficult for someone with 
a lot of skill to do things like that, 
even with the most secure systems 
now in existence. According to one 
expert, indeed, it's about as difficult 
"as solving a hard Sunday crossword 


Computers, of course, have come to 
be deeply and pervasively involved in 
basic functions of our society. Top 
executives might die off, factories 
blow up, foreign subsidiaries get 
nationalized, but if you really want 
to see a company president blanch, 
ask him what he would do if the 
magnetic tapes with his accounts re¬ 
ceivable got erased. 

Electronic and magnetic data have 
not only replaced manually kept 
books, but have also gone a long way 
toward replacing tangible assets, in¬ 
cluding money itself. Today's credit- 
card system, for example, is an 
offspring of computerization. In the 
words of Richard Mills, formerly a 
top computer expert at M.I.T., and 
now a vice president of First Na¬ 
tional City Bank, "The base form of 
an asset is no longer necessarily a 
400-ounce gold bar; now assets are 
often simply magnetic wiggles on a 

But gold bars in vaults, notations 
in a ledger, or, for that matter, 
written reports from a corporate 
research project are immutable and 
immovable things compared to mag¬ 
netic wiggles, which can be read, 
altered, or destroyed at the touch of 
a teletypewriter key. For criminal 
purposes, funds can be fraudulently 
credited to an account, a bank 
balance can be programmed never to 
fail, or the record of ownership of 
very large sums can be changed. 

This is not to say that computer 
crime is an overwhelming source of 
loss as yet. Robert Courtney, who is 
the man responsible for the safe¬ 
guards that go into I.B.M. equip¬ 
ment—and who is therefore likely to 
be one of the first people called 


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when something goes wrong—ranks 
computer-related losses into six 
categories, in decreasing order of 
importance. The largest category, 
accounting for around half of all 
losses, is simply errors and omissions 
by clerical and data-processing em¬ 
ployees. Next in order is employee 
dishonesty. Then come losses of data 
and equipment in fires; sabotage by 
disgruntled employees; water damage 
(i.e., floods and sprinkler-system mal¬ 
functions); and finally, an “other" 
category that includes remote manip¬ 
ulation of the system by outsiders. 

But there seem to be reasons to 
fear that criminal losses—whether the 
work of insiders or of outsiders—will 
grow much larger as time goes by. 

For one thing, Courtney has found 
that employee dishonesty has risen 
from fourth place to second since 
1972, which may mean that it just 
takes time for dishonest people to 
learn how to take advantage of their 


Outside of the world of EDP pro¬ 
fessionals, most of the present con¬ 
cern about the latent problem of 
computer security seems to have 
emerged since the widely publicized 
Equity Funding insurance swindle. 
While really more an instance of old- 
fashioned fraud than a feat of com¬ 
puter manipulation, the Equity 
Funding rip-off could hardly have 
reached the magnitude it did without 
the computer's adroitness in fooling 
auditors from four different account¬ 
ing firms. The case pretty well 
demonstrated that conventional 
auditing practice is all but helpless 
when confronting deception involving 
computers. The auditors have lost 
their traditional “paper trail"-the 

detritus of indelibly inscribed orders, 
invoices, bills, and receipts that the 
men in the green eyeshades pore 
through on the track of irregularity. 

The main group to benefit from 
the Equity Funding revelations has 
been the small but growing corps of 
specialists who claim to be able to 
write programs to make the computer 
do the auditing—that is, to perform 
various accounting cross-checks and to 
throw up a warning when certain 
suspicious transactions occur. This 
sort of auditing, however, like every¬ 
thing else that goes on inside a 
computer, is only as dependable as 
the computer itself. And unfortunately, 
computers can be programmed to lie 
or conceal as easily as they can be 
programmed for truth. 

Inklings of the computer's special 
potential for fraudulent use began to 
surface in the 1960's. The earliest 
federal prosecution came in 1966 and 
involved a young programmer in a 
Minneapolis bank who instructed the 
computer to ignore all overdrafts 
from his account. In that case, dis¬ 
covery occurred when the computer 
failed one day and the bank had to 
go back to manual processing. 

A $30,000-A-DAY-GAMBLER 

One of the more disturbing aspects 
of computer crime, in fact, is that 
detection, when it occurs, usually 
occurs by accident. Early last year, 
New York police raided a bookie and 
learned that one of his best customers 
was a man who for weeks at a time 
had gambled $30,000 a day. When 
detectives looked into the man's 
background, they discovered that he 
was an $ll,000-a-year teller at New 
York's Union Dime Savings Bank. It 
turned out that he had access to one 
of the bank's computer terminals. For 

more than three years, he had been 
using the device to milk hundreds 
of savings accounts, netting $1.5 

Combining workaday larceny with 
computer skill, he would accept a 
customer's deposits at the teller win¬ 
dow and pocket most of the money. 
Later, he would go to a terminal and 
type in false information to the 
machine or instructions to transfer 
money into the customer's account 
from one of hundreds of accounts 
that had shown little activity over 
several years. 

Cases like this involve compara¬ 
tively elementary manipulations of 
the computer toward narrow aims, 
fundamentally no different from what 
the ordinary dishonest bookkeeper 
might try to accomplish. Further¬ 
more, they're the kind of thing that 
computer auditing should be able to 
prevent. In the last couple of years, 
however, it has come to be recog¬ 
nized that the newer generations of 
computers, by the nature of their 
design, are vulnerable to more cun¬ 
ning forms of subversion. 


The leading expert on the history of 
computer crime is Donn Parker, a 
lanky former computer manager and 
now a researcher at Stanford Research 
Institute. Parker points out that 
“computer technology, over the years, 

Until not long ago, computer 
manufacturers and users saw little 
reason to fear that an unscrupu¬ 
lous person at one terminal would 
be able to read, alter, or delete 
another user’s data, or tamper 
with the intricate programs that 
manipulate this data. 

was based upon the assumption of a 
benign, nonhostile environment/' 

The machines were designed to pro¬ 
vide maximum efficiency and con¬ 
venience of operation by friendly, 
honest employees, within secure 
computer rooms to which access was 

In addition, the "third-generation" 
computers were put to uses not 
clearly anticipated by the designers. 

At the same time they were being 
developed, M.I.T. and other institu¬ 
tions were perfecting the concept of 
"time-sharing," which makes it pos¬ 
sible for many individuals in remote 
locations to use the same machine 
simultaneously via terminals and 
telephone lines. Time-sharing put 
immense computational power at the 
fingertips of users who might never 
have been able to afford a computer 
of their own. A subsequent innova¬ 
tion, called "networking," made it 
possible to link several dispersed com¬ 
puters and data banks together, so 
that widely separated installations 
could share data. 


In all such "multi-access" systems, 
each user has the impression that the 
entire computer is at his disposal. 
Actually, the machine may be serving 
many users at once, reading each 
user's typed commands, parceling out 
milliseconds of time, and entering 
and removing pieces of programs and 
data in and out of the arithmetic 
circuits and memory banks in rotation. 

While it's doing all this, the sys¬ 
tem is supposed to keep every user's 
data separate from every other user's 
through a system of secret passwords 
or code numbers, together with 
"access controls" programmed into 
the system itself. Each person types 
in his number or password at the 
beginning of his session to identify 
himself as a legitimate user. The 
access controls then specify what data 
and programs he is authorized to use, 
and “tag" and keep track of his work 
as it moves through the stages of 

These housekeeping functions are 
controlled by an immensely complex 
collection of special supervisory pro¬ 
grams, called the "operating system." 
The supervisory programs are perma¬ 
nently stored in the computer and 
are altogether distinct from the "ap¬ 

plications programs," which are the 
instructions for carrying out special 
tasks, such as a payroll run, a bank's 
daily accounting, or a scientific 

For all its central role in managing 
and safeguarding the resources in a 
multi-access computer, the typical 
operating system of today is pathet¬ 
ically exposed to tampering. For one 
thing, manufacturers and users have 
to be able to make changes in the 

system's programs. Many of these 
errors in concept or execution must 
be located and corrected before the 
system will work at all, but some 
remain hidden, or annoyingly evident, 
for years. 

In many systems, therefore, all 
that a would-be wrongdoer needs is 
to be familiar with the manufacturer's 
manuals, know the telephone number 
of the target installation, and have 
access to a terminal. Then he can 

Computerized Dating or Matchmaking 


The many companies throughout the United States and Great Britain which 
have been set up as "matchmakers" or "Find a Compatible Date" services, have 
in many cases a much broader reason for existence. By filling in the form and 
sending in your fee, you are helping to establish a selective mailing list for the 
selling of goods. Once "x" thousand names, with all the information has been 
assembled, the computer dating service can rent these lists to stores and com¬ 
panies who want to sell their product. They can tell the company that they 
want a list of 5000 people, male or female, white, or black, car owners, or 
sports car buffs. Maybe they want people who read two books a week. Or 
perhaps people who go to museums. 

The following is typical of the sort of information called for in the applica¬ 
tion—and it should be self-evident what other uses can be made from having 
this amount of information available on large sections of the population. If 
nothing else, it's been a boon to many advertising agencies—and a big money¬ 
maker for many of the computer date services. 

1. Your age_ 

2. Your occupation_ 

3. Your height:_ 

4. Your weight:_ 

5. Your sex: □ Male □ Female 

6. Your race: 

□ White □ Negro □ Oriental □ Other 

7. Your religion: 

□ Protestant □ Catholic □ Jewish □ Other DNone 

8. Religious convictions: 

□ Strong □ Average □ Little □ None 

9. Birthplace: 

□ U.S.A. □ English-speaking country □ Spanish-speaking □ Other 

10. Health 

□ Excellent □ Normally Good □ Often Poor □ Poor 

11. Hair color: 

□ Blonde □ Red □ Brown □ Black 

12. Hair style 

□ Long □ Average □ Short 

13. Years high school completed 

□ 1 D2 D3 D4 

14. Years university completed 

□ l m2 .m3 Q4 

15. Years of post-graduate 

□ l m2 m3 D4 ns n6 

dial in, identify himself somehow as a 
legitimate user, and type in com¬ 
mands that make the system reveal 
its passwords, the names of other 
users, their privileges, data files, etc. 
Once he has the passwords, any user 
can then masquerade as another user 
or as a staffer with authorization to 
make changes in the system's pass¬ 
word-privilege list, or, for that matter, 
in the operating system's own programs. 


Like the passwords, the systems- 
command code words are arbitrarily 
chosen and can be changed as easily 
as the lock on a door. That would 
foil inexpert intruders, but crack 
programmers have demonstrated that 
it's not necessary to know the systems 
commands to take over any major 
operating system that now exists. 

For one thing, each of the command 

16. Your rank in school 

□ upper % □ Upper % □ Upper % □ Other 

17. Do you watch TV? 

□ Often □ Seldom □ Sometimes □ Never 

18. Do you read books? 

□ Often □ Seldom □ Sometimes □ Never 

19. How often do you read newspapers? 

□ Daily □ Several times week □ Never 

20. What are your favorite kind of films? (check all that apply) 

□ Westerns □ Musicals □ War □ Adventure □ Dramas □ Cartoons 

□ Comedies □ Travel □ Foreign □ Documentaries □ Horror □ None 

21. What kind of magazines do you read? (check all that apply) 

□ News □ Fashion □ Literary □ Movie □ General Interest □ Comics 

□ Sport □ Special Interest □ None 

22. What languages do you speak fluently? (check all that apply) 

□ English □ Spanish □ German □ French □ Other 

23. What type of music do you like? (check all that apply) 

□ Folk □ Popular □ Religious □ Country & Western □ Jazz □ Classics 

□ Latin American □ Light Classics □ None 

24. Which of the following activities do you enjoy? (check all that apply) 

□ Cinema □ Writing □ Reading □ Driving □ Household Chores 

□ Bowling □ Pottering □ Dancing □ Talking □ Drinking □ Fishing 

□ Camping □ Working □ Loafing □ Thinking □ Gardening □ Necking 

□ Chess □ Parties □ Flying □ Travelling □ Studying □ Shopping 

□ Attending Meetings □ Playing Music □ Collecting □ Gambling □ Lis¬ 
tening to Music □ Walking □ Building Things □ Creating Art □ Out¬ 
door Sports □ Eating □ Watching Sports Events □ Competing in Sports 

25. Where do you usually go when you date? (check all that apply) 

□ Cinema □ Dances □ Lunch □ Dinner □ Driving Around □ Pubs □ 
Concerts □ Plays □ Bowling □ Weekend Trips □ Sport Events □ Each 
Other's Home □ Outdoor Activities. 

26. Which qualities do you like most in a date? (check all that apply) 

□ Physique □ Loyalty □ Compliance □ Intelligence □ Sensitivity 

□ Sense of Humor □ Honesty □ Daring □ Understanding □ Looks 

□ Virtue □ Sophistication □ Money □ Mystery □ Self-assurance 

□ Popularity □ Decisiveness □ Excitement 

27. How much is usually spent when you date?: 

□ Less than £1 □ £2 to £4 □ £4 to £6 □ More than £6 

28. What sort of people do you feel mdst at home with? 

□ Outdoorsmen □ Intellectuals □ Swingers □ Artistic People □ Profes¬ 
sionals □ Working People □ Cultured People □ Average Folks □ None 

(continued on baze 1 SO) 

The base form of an asset is no 
longer necessarily a 400-ounce 
gold bar; now assets are often 
simply magnetic wiggles on a disk. 

code words is really a shorthand 
symbol that stands for a prewritten 
miniprogram stored in the computer. 
When the word is used, this program 
carries out the various steps required 
to unlock the system's safeguards. A 
skilled would-be penetrator with 
access to the proper manuals can 
deduce everything he needs to write 
his own program, type it in, and 
subvert an operating system. 

Another important kind of vulner¬ 
ability derives from the sheer com¬ 
plexity of today's operating systems. 
To cope with all eventualities in a 
time-sharing network, some operating 
systems run to hundreds of thousands 
of separate instructions. In the com¬ 
position of something like that, 
hundreds of errors inevitably creep 
in—either oversights in the design of 
the safeguards or simple mistakes in 
the writing of the instructions. 

Under certain circumstances, these 
errors will let data leak from one 
user's domain to another's, or even 
open a way into the supposedly in¬ 
violate territory of the operating 
system itself. Many a subscriber to a 
commercial timesharing service, hav¬ 
ing accidentally pressed a certain 
combination of keys, has found some¬ 
one else's data rattling out unbidden. 
By now, a lot of people have learned 
how to exploit software errors delib¬ 
erately—not only to read data stored 
in the machine, but also to type in 
changes in access-control safeguards, 
data, and programs. 


The first delighted exploiters of these 
software quirks were the "systems 
hackers"—students at universities 
where some of the first time-sharing 
systems were installed as far back as 
the middle Sixties. 

Among other things, faculty mem¬ 
bers stored grades and examinations 
on some of these systems, and sys¬ 
tems hackers became adept at chang¬ 
ing their own grades or reading 
upcoming exam questions. 

By the late Sixties, computer 
experts at Rand Corp. were warning 

their aovprnmpnt natrons fhat all fhp 

multi-access systems on the market 
were vulnerable. Over the years since 
then, under contracts with the De¬ 
fense Department, Rand and a 
number of other organizations have 
been seeking methods to improve 
operating-system security, as well as 
methods to ascertain whether any 
system is really secure. The most 
glamorous phase of this activity is 
the work of the "tiger teams/ 7 who 
actually try to penetrate systems 
being considered for defense uses. So 
far, no major system has withstood a 
dedicated attack by a tiger team. 

The disturbing implications of all 
this for civilian computer operations 
are only now coming to be widely 
recognized. In principle, the ability 
to take over a computer's operating 
system implies having access to all 
data and all programs on the ma¬ 
chine, together with the ability to 
distort them at will. Properly done, 
such subversion is likely to go un¬ 
detected. For criminal purposes, such 
control would be something like hav¬ 
ing a small army of corrupt book¬ 
keepers at one's command, but without 
all the risks of exposure that relying 
on the cooperation of human beings 

With the increasing use of these 
systems as repositories and conveyors 
of valuable assets and private and 
proprietary data of incalculable 
worth, a number of computer profes¬ 
sionals have begun speculating about 
the grave potentialities for criminal 
manipulation of computer systems. 
Among them is Clark Weissman, a 
manager of computer-security research 
with System Development Corp. 
Weissman believes that a lot of 
criminal activity could already be 
going on, leaving no external evidence. 

"Sherlock Holmes," he says, "can't 
come in and find any heel marks. 
There's no safe with its door blown 
off. Many companies wouldn't even 
know their data's been manipulated." 
As for auditing programs, "the first 
thing the interloper would do is 
corrupt the audit-trail software itself." 

No one has valid statistics as to how 
much of this sophisticated subversion 
goes on, but from all indications, a 
lot more goes on than is ever de¬ 
tected. Donn Parker concludes that 

of nearly 175 cases of computer crime 
he has looked into, hardly any were 
uncovered through normal security 
precautions and accounting controls— 
nearly all were exposed by happen¬ 
stance. One expert guesses that the 
ratio of undiscovered to discovered 
crimes may be on the order of a 
hundred to one. 

A lot of the computer crime that 
is detected, moreover, is never pub¬ 
licly announced. Most security ex¬ 
perts have collections of incidents 
that they have investigated but that 

were never reported to the police. 
Furthermore, some banks and com¬ 
panies candidly admit that when an 
incident is discovered, the corporate 
victims usually try to avoid the em¬ 
barrassment and loss of confidence 
that publicity might bring. According 
to I.B.M.'s Robert Courtney, "It's 
generally accepted in this business 
that about 85 percent of detected 
frauds are never brought to the 
attention of law-enforcement people. 
The companies just eat 'em. Of the 
15 percent that are announced, a fair 

29. What size community were you brought up in? 

□ Small Town □ Small City □ Medium-sized City □ Large City 

30. How many brothers & sisters do you have? 

□ 3 or more □ 1 or 2 □ None 

31. Do you support yourself? 

□ Yes □ Partially □ No 

32. Do you feel that premarital sex can be justified? 

□ Yes □ No □ It Depends 

33. Do you like going steady? 

□ Yes □ No □ It Depends 

34. Have you been engaged? 

□ Yes, Several Times □ Yes, Once □ No 

35. Have you been married? 

□ Yes (Childless) □ Yes (Have Children) □ No 

36. How often do you date? 

□ Almost Every Night □ A Few Times a Month □ A Few Times a 
Week □ Irregularly □ Once a Week □ Seldom 

37. Where do you live? 

□ With parents □ Share a Flat □ Dormitory □ Own Apartment 

38. When would you like to get married? 

□ Soon □ In a Few Years □ Not for a Long Time 

39. Are you considered attractive? 

□ Yes, Very □ Usually □ Sometimes □ No 

40. Are most of your dates considered attractive? 

□ Yes □ Usually □ No 

41. Would you date members of other religions? 

□ Yes □ Preferably No □ No 

42. What kind of car do you own? 

□ Sedan □ Compact □ Foreign □ Sports □ None 

43. Do you enjoy wearing old clothing? 

□ Often □ Sometimes □ Never 

44. Do you like children? 

□ Yes □ No □ It Depends 

45. What age group do you usually date? 

□ My Own □ Somewhat Older □ A Lot Younger □ A Lot Older □ 
Somewhat Younger □ It Varies 

46. How much do you drink? 

□ A Lot □ Just Socially □ Not at All 

47. How much do you smoke? 

□ A Lot □ Occasionally □ Not at All 

number are brought in from the out¬ 
side by the police/' 

What often happens is that the 
offender, once detected, is required 
to make restitution and then leave— 
sometimes even getting severance pay 
and letters of reference to speed him 
away. One consequence, no doubt, is 
a circulating population of unpunished, 
unrepentant, and unrecognized em¬ 
bezzlers going from company to 
company. Probably a more serious 
consequence, though, has been to 
suppress recognition of the extent of 
computer crime, and thereby to lull 
both makers and users of computers 
into minimizing it as a threat. 

Art Professor Generates 
3-D Art Using Computer 

Computers and Automation 

University of Massachusetts Art Professor Robert Mallary has been using a 
computer as an assistant in generating three-dimensional art. Mr. Mallary is one 
of the pioneers in this country in developing specific computer programs for 
sculpture which allow the computer to determine shapes. TRAN 2, Mr. Mallary's 
program, establishes sets of numerical co-ordinates in the computer's memory 
which can be used to sketch out an abstract, three-dimensional shape. Varying 
the numbers can squeeze, stretch or twist this shape in a nearly infinite number 
of variations. He uses an IBM 1130 computer because its output hardware in¬ 
cludes a computer driven plotter that can draw out his shapes. The computer 
and plotter can be programmed to draw the shape from a variety of sides and 
a variety of angles. 

The plotter also can be directed to draw out a set of contour slices. The 
contour printout is photographed, projected into plastic, plywood or other 
material, thus forming the pattern for the sections of the finished sculpture. 

Mr. Mallary cuts out the sections, drills a center axis, and cements the slices 
into the finished shape around a metal center rod. Smoothing and finishing 
completes the piece. 

His first computer work, a laminated plexiglass piece, named Quad I, was 
exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in the summer of 
1968. Quad III, at the left, a laminated luaun veneer piece sixty inches high, 
was included in a 1968 Whitney Museum exhibition of the contemporary 
American sculpture, and the following spring at the Contemporary Crafts 
Museum in New York City. 

Mr. Mallary sees a big future for computer sculpture. "Linked to a tape- 
driven machine tool a computer might produce 100 or 200 small carvings an 
hour. Most of these might be thrown away but one or two could become the 
prototypes for large-scale works." He predicts that ultimately the computer 
may even be able to "learn" the stylistic preferences and idiosyncracies of the 
sculptor who is using it, retain this information and be able to produce works 
"in the manner of" the sculptor. 

“Are you sure you have the computer programmed 
correctly , Dick P” 



Public Opinion 


The government must turn to com¬ 
puters to handle many of its major 
problems simply because the data 
involved are so massive and the fac¬ 
tors so complex that only machines 
can handle the material fast enough 
to allow timely action based on 
understanding of the facts. In the 
nature of the situation, the decisions 
made by the government with the 
help of computers would be based in 
good part on computers that have 
been programmed with more or less 
confidential information—and privi¬ 
leged access to information, at the 
time it is needed, is a sufficient if not 
always necessary condition for attain¬ 
ing and maintaining power. There 
may not be any easy way to insure 
that decisions based on computers 
could not become a threat to 
democratic government. Most of the 
necessary inputs for the government's 
computer systems are available only 
to the government, because it is the 
only institution with sufficiently 
extensive facilities for massive surveys. 

It may be impossible to allow 
much of the government, to say 
nothing of the public, access to the 
kind of information we have been 
discussing. But let us assume that 
somehow the operation of the gov¬ 
ernment has been reorganized so 
that procedures are enforced to 
permit competing political parties 
and other private organizations to 
have access to the government's raw 
data, to have parallel systems for 
the processing of data as well as to 
have access to the government's 
computer programs. Even then, most 
people will be incapable of judging 
the validity of one contending com¬ 
puter program compared to another, 
or whether the policies based on 
them are appropriate. 

This condition exists today about 
military postures. These are derived 
in good part from computer analyses 
and computer-based games that 
produce probabilities based on pro¬ 
grammed assumptions about weapon 
systems and our own and the enemy's 
behavior. Here the intellectual 
ineffectualness of the layman is ob¬ 
scured by the secrecy that keeps him 
from finding out what he probably 
would not be able to understand 

If this sounds condescending, it 
only needs to be pointed out that 

there are large areas of misunder¬ 
standing and misinterpretation among 
the military too. At any given time, 
some of these people do not fully 
appreciate the relationships between 
the programs used in the computers 
and the real world in which the con¬ 
sequences are supposed to follow. As 
it is now, the average intelligent man 
has little basis for judging the differ¬ 
ing opinions of economists about the 
state of the economy or even about 
the reasons for the past state. He also 
has little basis for appraising the 
conflicting opinions among scientists 
and engineers about the costs and 
results of complex scientific develop¬ 
ments such as man in space. In both 
examples, computers play important 
roles in the esoteric arguments 

Thus, even if people may have 
more leisure time to attend more 
closely to politics, they may not have 
the ability to contribute to the for¬ 
mulation of policy. Some observers 
feel that the middle class does not 
now take a strong interest in voting 
and is alienated from its responsi¬ 
bility for the conduct of government. 
Leisure may not change this trend, 
especially when government becomes 
in large part the complex computer 
operation that it must necessarily 

Significant public opinion may 
come from only a relatively small 
portion of the public: those who are 
able to follow the battles of the com¬ 
puters and to understand the implica¬ 
tions of their programs; and those 
who are concerned with government 
policy but who are outside of or 
unfamiliar with the computer 

For this segment of the voting 
population differences over decisions 
that are made or should be made 
might become more intense and 
more irreconcilable. Already there is a 
difference of opinion among intelli¬ 
gent men about the problem of the 
proper roles in American foreign 
policy of military weapons, arms 
control, and various levels of dis¬ 
armament. One side accuses its oppo¬ 
nents of naivete or ignorance about 
the "facts" (computer-based), and the 
other side objects to the immorality 
or political insensibilities of its oppo¬ 
nents. Many aspects of the problem 
involve incommensurables; most are 

too complex to stand simplification 
in order to appeal to the larger 
public or to an unsophisticated con¬ 
gressman. Yet the arguments are 
simplified for these purposes and the 
result is fantastic confusion. 

As for the selection of the men 
who are to plan or make policy, a 
computerized government will require 
different training from that which 
executive personnel in most govern¬ 
mental agencies have today. Cer¬ 
tainly, without such training (and 
perhaps with it) there is bound to be 
a deepening of the split between 
politics and facts. 

In business and industry the shift 
has already begun toward recruiting 
top management from the cadre of 
engineering and laboratory adminis¬ 
tration, for these are the people 
who understand the possibilities of 
and are sympathetic to computer- 
based thinking. In government the 
trend has not been as clear-cut, but it 
is noteworthy that the scientist, as 
high-level adviser, is a recent innova¬ 
tion and one clearly here to stay. 

For reasons of personality as well 
as professional perspective, many 
operations researchers and systems 
analysts have great difficulty in cop¬ 
ing with the more ambiguous and 
less “logical” aspects of society. Their 
temperament, training, and sympathies 
may not incline them to indulge the 
slow, ponderous, illogical, and emo¬ 
tional tendencies of democratic 
processes. Or they may ignore the 
extralogical nature of man. Emphasis 
on “logic,” in association with the 
other factors we have mentioned, 
may encourage a trend toward the 
recruitment of authoritarian personal¬ 
ities. There is no necessary correlation 
between the desire to apply scientific 
logic to problems and the desire to 
apply democratic principles to daily, 
or even to professional scientific, life. 

The psychological influence of 
computers is overwhelming: they sym¬ 
bolize and reenforce the potency of 
America's belief in the utility of 
science and technology. There is a 
sense of security in nicely worked-up 
curves and complex displays of infor¬ 
mation which are the products of 
almost unimaginably intricate and 
elegant machinery. In general, the 
influence of computers will continue 
to be enhanced if those who use 
them attend chiefly to those compo¬ 

nents of reality which can be put 
into a computer and processed by it, 
and the important values will become 
those which are compatible with this 
approach to analyzing and manipulat¬ 
ing the world. For example, the in¬ 
fluence of computers has already 
been sufficiently strong to seduce 
military planners and civil defense 
planners away from those aspects of 
their problems which are not now 
subject to data processing. 

There may not be any easy way to 
insure that decisions based on 
computers could not become a 
threat to democratic government. 

Computers are especially useful for 
dealing with social situations that 
pertain to people in the mass, such as 
traffic control, financial transactions, 
mass-demand consumer goods, alloca¬ 
tion of resources, etc. They are so 
useful in these areas that they un¬ 
doubtedly will help to seduce planners 
into inventing a society with goals 
that can be dealt with in the mass 
rather than in terms of the individual. 
In fact, the whole trend toward cy¬ 
bernation can be seen as an effort to 
remove the variabilities in man's on- 
the-job behavior and off-the-job needs 
which, because of their nonstatistical 
nature, complicate production and 
consumption. Thus, somewhere along 
the line, the idea of the individual 
may be swallowed up in statistics. 

The planner and those he plans for 
may become divorced from one an¬ 
other, and the alienation of the 
individual from his government and 
individual from individual within 
government may grow ever greater. 

Computers will inevitably be used 
to plan employment for those dis¬ 
placed by cybernation. This may lead 
to a more rationalized society than 
could otherwise be invented, with a 
more adequate allocation of jobs. But 
one wonders whether it will not also 
lead, on a national scale, to an atti¬ 
tude in the planner of relative indif¬ 
ference to the individual. 

What will be the consequences for 
our relations with underdeveloped 
nations of a government that sees the 
world through computers? With our 
general public alienated from its own 
productive and governmental pro¬ 
cesses and our leadership seemingly 
successful through its use of computer- 

based planning and control, our 
government may well become more 
and more incapable of recognizing 
the differences between the needs, 
aspirations, and customs of these 
nations and those of our own country. 

On the other hand, the emphasis 
on human behavior as a statistical 
reality may encourage revisions in the 
temporal scale of government plan¬ 
ning and programs. Time is a statis¬ 
tical property in cybernated systems: 
it takes time for variables to average 
out, to rise or fall in their effects, 
and the time period usually is not a 
fiscal year or some small multiple 
thereof. Thus, perhaps we can hope 
for more sensible long-range planning 
in government as a result of the com¬ 
puter's need for long time periods in 
which to make its statistical models 
work out. 

The implications of the concentra¬ 
tion of decision making within busi¬ 
ness firms as a result of cybernation 
are not as clear-cut as the effects for 
government. In principle, both big 
and small businesses will be able to 
know much more about the nature of 
their markets and of their organiza¬ 
tional operations through cybernation. 
Whether or not this will help both 
big and small proportionately is far 
from clear. Big business will un¬ 
doubtedly have better facilities for 
information and decisions, but small 
business may be able to get what it 
needs by buying it from service 
organizations that will come into 
existence for this purpose. 

Big organizations will be able to 
afford high-priced personnel for doing 
the thinking beyond that done by 
the machines. If quality of thinking 
is always related to price, the big 
organizations will be able to put 
their small competitors out of busi¬ 
ness. But the big organizations, 
precisely because of their size, may 
have relatively little maneuverability, 
and some of the best minds may find 
the little organization a more exciting 
game. Whether the little organiza¬ 
tions could stay afloat is moot, but 
one can anticipate some exciting 
entrepreneurial maneuvers among the 
small firms while they last. 


Time is crucial in any plan to cope 
with cybernation. Ways of ameliorat¬ 
ing its adverse effects require thinking 

farther ahead than we ever do. In a 
society in the process of becoming 
cybernated, education and training 
for work as well as education and 
training for leisure must begin early 
in life. Shifts in behavior, attitudes, 
and aspirations take a long time to 
mature. It will be extraordinarily 
difficult to produce appropriate 
“culture-bearers,” both parents and 
teachers, in sufficient numbers, distri¬ 
bution, and quality in the relatively 
brief time available. It is hard to see, 
for example, how Congress, composed 
in good part of older men acting 
from traditional perspectives and 
operating by seniority, could recog¬ 
nize and then legislate well enough 
to produce the fundamental shifts 
needed to meet the complexities of 

It is hard to see how our style of 
pragmatic making-do and frantic 
crash programs can radically change 
in the next few years. This is espe¬ 
cially hard to visualize when the 
cybernation situation is such that we 
find it impossible to determine the 
consequences of cybernation even in 
the medium long run. “Drastic” 
actions to forestall or eliminate the 
ill effects of cybernation will not be 
taken in time unless we change our 
operating style drastically. 

Among the many factors contribut¬ 
ing to the stability of a social system 
are two intimately intertwined ones: 
the types of tasks that are performed; 
and the nature of the relationship 
between the attitudes of the mem¬ 
bers of the society toward these tasks 
and their opinions about the proper 
goals of the individual members of 
the society and the right ways of 
reaching them. 

The long-range stability of the 
social system depends on a popula¬ 
tion of young people properly educated 
to enter the adult world of tasks and 
attitudes. Once, the pace of change 
was slow enough to permit a com¬ 
fortable margin of compatibility 
between the adult world and the one 
children were trained to expect. Now 
we have to ask: What should be the 

A computerized government will 
require different training from that 
which executive personnel in 
most governmental agencies have 

education of a population more and 
more enveloped in cybernation? 

What are the appropriate attitudes 
toward, and training for, participation 
in government, the use of leisure, 
standards of consumption, particular 

Education must cope with the 
transitional period when the disrup¬ 
tion among different socio-economic 
and occupational groups will be the 
greatest; and the later, relatively 
stable period, if it ever comes to 
exist, when most people would have 
adequate income and shorter working 
hours. The problem involves looking 
ahead five, ten, twenty years to see 
what are likely to be the occupa¬ 
tional and social needs and attitudes 
of those future periods; planning 
the intellectual and social education 
of each age group in the numbers 
needed; motivating young people to 
seek certain types of jobs and to 
adopt the desirable and necessary 
attitudes; providing enough suitable 
teachers; being able to alter all of 
these as society and technology indi¬ 
cate; and directing the pattern of 
cybernation so that it fits with the 
expected kinds and distribution of 
abilities and attitudes produced by 
home and school. 

To what extent education and 
technology can be coordinated is not 
at all clear, if only because we do 
not know, even for today's world, 
the criteria for judging the consonance 
or dissonance in our educational, 
attitudinal, and occupational systems. 
We think that parts of the social 
system are badly out of phase with 
other parts and that the system is 
progressively less capable of coping 
with the problems it produces. But 
there is little consensus on the "causes" 
and even less on what can be done 
about them. 

If we do not find the answers to 
these questions soon, we will have a 
population more and more out of 
touch with national and international 
realities, ever more the victims of 
insecurity on the one hand and ennui 
on the other, and more and more 
mismatched to the occupational 
needs of the day. 

Perhaps time has already run out. 
Even if our style somehow should 
shift to long-range planning, it would 
not eliminate the inadequate training 
and inadequate values of much of 

The psychological influence of 
computers is overwhelming: they 
symbolize and reenforce the 
potency of America’s belief in the 
utility of science and technology. 

our present adolescent and preadoles¬ 
cent population, as well as of those 
adults who will be displaced or re¬ 
main unhired as a result of cybernation 
in the next decade. Only a partial 
solution exists in this case: begin now 
a program of economic and social 
first aid for these people. 

Can we coqtrol the effects of 
cybernation by making it illegal or 
unprofitable to develop cybernation 
technology? Not without virtually 
stopping the development of almost 
all of new technology and a good 
part of the general development of 
scientific knowledge. The accumula¬ 
tion of knowledge in many areas of 
science depends on computers. To 
refine computers and make them 
more versatile requires research in 
almost every scientific area. It also 
requires the development of a tech¬ 
nology, usually automated, to pro¬ 
duce the articles needed to build new 
computers. As long as we choose to 
compete with other parts of the 
world, we shall have to develop new 
products and new means for produc¬ 
ing them better. Cybernation is the 
only way to do it on a significant 
scale. As long as we choose to live in 
a world guided by science and its 
technology we have no choice but to 
encourage the development of cyber¬ 
nation. Then the answers to coping 
with it must be found elsewhere than 
in a moratorium on its development. 

There has always been tension be¬ 
tween big industry, with its concern 
for profit and market control, and 
government, with its concern for the 
national interest. The tension has in¬ 
creased as big business has become so 
large as to be quasi-governmental in 
its influence and as government has 
had to turn to and even subsidize 
parts of business in order to meet 
parts of the national interest within 
a free-enterprise framework. Thus we 
can expect strong differences between 
government and business as to when 
and where it is socially legitimate to 
introduce automation. 

In theory, control could be exer¬ 
cised by private enterprise. But in the 

unlikely case that competitors could 
see their mutual interests clearly 
enough to join forces, the very act of 
cooperative control would be incom¬ 
patible with our antitrust laws. 

Whether the government or some 
alter-government comprised of busi¬ 
ness, labor, and industry were to do 
the controlling, either group would 
have to undertake a degree of na¬ 
tional planning and control thoroughly 
incompatible with the way in which 
we look upon the management of 
our economic and social system today. 


who are the men with hats 
who go to my neighbor 
who tells them I drink with 
whoever comes along and 
where I go between the hours of . . . and 
where I was when they said it was a 

where really my husband sent me 
where I could sober up 
when after all his debts 
when he played the horses once too 

when I told him we’d be broke 
like they are polite but she hates me 
like I hate her, she’s real nosy 
like; and her kid, too, who’s a peeping 

like I found him up our fire escape 
how he got there they don’t care 
how is not their business or why 
how to get it all down and in the bank 

how those guys spend their time: saving 
us up. 


The Snooping 
Machine _ 


If the government has its say, the 
budget department’s giant computer 
will take the first step toward stripping 
away your last vestiges of privacy 

The year is 1980. The place is a 
suburb in the United States. The set¬ 
ting is a record-control society that 
could make George Orwell's Oceania 
almost look like a haven of privacy. 

At seven a.m., our typical citizen, 
an engineer named Roger M. Smith, 
wakes up, dresses, has breakfast and 
gets ready to commute by car to his 
office in Central City. Already, heat, 
light and water records fed directly 
from his home to the Central City 
Utility Corporation (for purposes of 
billing and use analysis) provide data 
that can establish when Smith got up 
and just how he moved through his 

Smith takes his car out of the 
garage and drives onto the turnpike, 
heading downtown. As he reaches the 
tollgate, his license plate is automat¬ 
ically scanned by a television camera 
and his number is sent instantaneously 
to an on-line computer containing 
lists of wanted persons, stolen cars 
and traffic-ticket violators. If Smith's 
plate registers a positive response, 
police stationed 100 yards along the 
turnpike will have the signal before 
Smith's car reaches their position. 

As he stops at the tollgate, Smith 
gives the initial performance of what 
will be a ritual repeated many times 
during the day. He places his right 
thumb in front of a scanning camera. 
At the same time, he recites into the 
unit's microphone, "Smith, Roger M., 
2734-2124-4806." Roger has just used 
his thumbprint, voiceprint and per¬ 
sonal identification number to carry 
out his first financial transaction of 
the day. 

Roger's inputs are carried swiftly 
by data line to the Downtown Na¬ 
tional Bank, the central depository of 
Roger's financial account. Though he 
may have accounts in other banks 
throughout the country, these are all 
registered and monitored by the bank 
in Smith's place of residence or work. 
When the thumbprint and voiceprint 
recorded at the tollgate are compared 
with the bank's master prints, estab¬ 
lishing that it is really "Smith, Roger 
M., 2734-2124-4806," the bank's com¬ 
puter posts a 75-cent charge to his 
account and flashes a 75-cent credit 
to the bank holding the Turnpike 
Authority account. 

Throughout his typical day, when 
he parks at the Triangle Garage, is 
registered in and out of the company 

office for payroll verification, has 
lunch at Jimmy's East, makes pur¬ 
chases at Macy's, goes to Central 
City Stadium for a ball game, places 
a bet on the daily double, buys plane 
tickets, settles his hotel bill or buys 
500 shares of Electronic Computers 
Unlimited, Roger Smith will use no 
cash. Money has been eliminated, 
except for pocket-change transactions. 

Of course, all of Roger's regular, 
continuing obligations are paid 
automatically from his account—his 
mortgage installments, insurance 
premiums, magazine subscriptions, 
organizational membership dues, etc. 
Those continuing accounts that 
fluctuate monthly are also verified 
and paid automatically—medical bills, 
psychiatrist's fees, gasoline charges, 
telephone bills, pay-TV account, 
book-club purchases, etc. All financial 
credits to Roger's account, each 
carefully identified as to the source 
and classified as to the basis for pay¬ 
ment, go directly to the bank, not to 
Roger. Roger's various federal, state 
and local tax obligations are deter¬ 
mined by computer analysis and are 
automatically paid when due. 

This is a superb system—efficient, 
practical and far cheaper than the 
money economy with which mankind 
fumbled along for so long. But one 
by-product of the cashless society is 
that every significant movement and 
transaction of Roger Smith's life has 
produced a permanent record in the 
computer memory system. As he 
spends, uses and travels, he leaves an 
intransmutable and centralized docu¬ 
mentary trail behind him. To those 
with access to his financial account, 
Roger Smith's life is an open tape. 

But the daily denuding of Roger 
Smith has only begun. For every per¬ 
son in the United States in 1980, 
there are four master files. His com¬ 
plete educational record, from pre¬ 
school nursery to postgraduate evening 
course in motorboat economics, is in 
an educational dossier, including the 
results of all intelligence, aptitude 
and personality tests he's taken, 
ratings by instructors and peers and 
computer analyses of his projected 
educational capacities. 

Roger's complete employment 
record contains entries for every job 
he has held, with rate of pay, super¬ 
visors' evaluations, psychometric test 
results, recommendations, outside 

interests, family milieu and a com¬ 
puter-analyzed, up-to-date job-security 
profile. All of this is available for 
instant print-out when an employer 
wants to consider Roger for a job or 
a promotion. 

Roger's financial file is probably 
the largest. It contains a selected his¬ 
tory of his financial transactions, from 
his earliest entry into the computer¬ 
ized economy to his latest expenditure 
for a new Carramba-35 sports car. 

His patterns of earnings, fixed expen¬ 
ditures, discretionary spending, com¬ 
puter-projected earning capacity and 
similar items are all kept ready, so 
that decisions involving loans, mort¬ 
gages, insurance and other credit-line 
transactions for Roger Smith are 
made with full knowledge of his 
fiscal history. 

Finally, there is Roger's national 
citizenship file. This is a unified 
Federal-state-local dossier that con¬ 
tains all of Roger's life history that is 
“of relevance" to Government. In 
1980, that is quite a broad category. 

It includes his birth facts and per¬ 
manent identification number, his 
educational file in full (after all, it 
was either public education or pub¬ 
licly assisted), his military service, 
all the information from his license 
applications, income-tax records and 
Social Security data and, if he now 
works or worked in the past as a 
Government employee, consultant or 
contractor, his public employment 
record and assorted security clear¬ 
ances. If Roger was ever arrested for 
a crime other than a minor traffic 
violation, a special public-offender 
intelligence file is opened on Roger 
Smith that includes a large base of 
information relating to his educa¬ 
tional, employment, military, family 
and civic activity. Citizenship files 
also include a personal-health cate¬ 
gory, developed to aid public-health 
measures and to assist individuals 
caught in health crises away from 
their home physicians. This contains 

Where normal recording has been 
about 5600 bits of information on 
an inch of magnetic tape, the new 
laser process can put 645 , 000,000 
bits in microscopic parallel rows 
on each inch. And the recording 
process achieves speeds of 
12,000,000 bits per second. 

a complete medical dossier from birth 
condition and psychosexual develop¬ 
ment to reports of last week's immu¬ 
nization shot, cardiogram flutter or 
extended-depression check-up. Most 
important of all, these four master 
files on education, employment, 
finances and citizenship can be put 
together into one unified print-out 
whenever a Government agency with 
subpoena power chooses to do so. 

For purposes of economic fore¬ 
casting, demographic studies and 
behavioral prediction, the data base 
such a dossier society has created 
provides uneqoialed opportunities for 
research and policy analysis. For 
enforcement of public programs— 
educational reforms, integration rules, 
crime control, mental health—the 
national file system brings unparalleled 
advantages. But crucial elements of 
privacy in a free society, such as the 
partial anonymity of life, limited cir¬ 
culation of personal information and 
preservation of confidence in certain 
intimate relationships, are the bleed¬ 
ing casualties of a dossier society. For 
the Roger Smiths of 1980, life is by, 
on and for the record. 

How does the record net work? 

For Roger Smith, who started work 
as an engineer at Consolidated 
Technics in the “old personnel sys¬ 
tem" days of 1970, the flash of 
understanding came when he was 
considered for the key promotion of 
his career, a possible move from 
engineering supervisor at Consoli¬ 
dated Technics to deputy vice- 
president for engineering at General 
Space, Incorporated. As Roger sat in 
the office of the information-system 
analyst (formerly personnel director) 
of General Space, he found himself 
staring at a print-out that had just 
been handed to him. It was titled 
“Inconsistent Items for Personal 
Explanation at Assessment Interview." 
As he scanned the list, he found 
these items: 

1. High School Personality Test 
Profile. High score on the Fosdick 
Artistic and Literary Interest Inven¬ 
tory; technical career rated “doubtful." 

2. Criminal Record. Disturbing-the- 
peace conviction, Daytona Beach, 
Florida, age 18. Speeding tickets, 

New Jersey Turnpike, 1974, 1975. 

3. Civic Activity. Signed antidraft 
petition circulated by Colgate Uni¬ 

versity chapter, Make Love Not War 
Society. Door registers showed atten¬ 
dance at campus lecture by George 
Lincoln Rockwell, age 20. 

4. Income Management Rating. 

B—. Average annual personal loan 
held during past five years—$3000 to 
$5000. Balance in savings account on 
April 1, $217.41. 

“If you have studied this long enough/' 
the information-system analyst broke in, 
“let me briefly explain our procedure 
here to you. You are one of four men 
being considered for this position. We 
want you to take as much time as you 
need to write out an explanation of 
these items in your record. Your answers 
should be in terms of how these items 
might affect a possible career for you 
here at General Space, Incorporated. 
Keep in mind that we do seventy-five 
percent of our work for the Federal 
Space Voyage Program, and that involves 
classified information. The explanations 
you give us will become part of your 
general personnel files, of course, includ¬ 
ing the disposition we make of your 
employment review. 

“Since this is the first time you seem 
to have applied for a job under the new 
computerized career-analysis system, let 
me reassure you that this is not an 
unusually large number of inconsistent 
items to be presented with. Your com¬ 
plete file runs close to two hundred and 
fifty pages, which is about the average 
length for a man of your age. However, I 
think it is only fair to tell you that two 
of the men being evaluated for the posi¬ 
tion have no inconsistencies to comment 
on as part of their personal interviews. 
After you have done this on several 
occasions, you will probably get used to 
it. . . ” 

At this point, the late Rod Serling 
should appear on the television 
screen, grin his raffish grin and say, 
“Portrait of life in a fish bowl, some¬ 
where in the Twilight Zone." We 
should all be able to smile appre¬ 
ciatively at his superb science-fiction 
imagination and then check the late 
movie on channel two. The trouble is 
that Roger Smith's dilemma is closer 
to reality than we think, both tech¬ 
nologically and as a matter of social 
trends in America. 

Consider first the question of tech¬ 
nological feasibility. The average 
person knows that computers can 
collect and store vast amounts of 
data, search this with great swiftness, 
make comparisons and collations and 

Looking for a Rare Coin? 

Computer May Hold Your Answer 


A downtown Dallas business firm has put a million-dollar computer to work- 
looking for pennies. And dimes and quarters. The coins are special. They are 
rare coins, much in demand among collectors throughout the nation. 

The Dallas firm, Steve Ivy Rare Coin Co., Metropolitan Mall, #7, 1310 
Elm Street, does a quarter-million dollars' worth of business each month with 
coin collectors from coast to coast. With such a business volume and thousands 
of rare coins in the bank vaults and store inventory, Steve Ivy, president of the 
firm, wanted to find a better and faster way to serve the customer looking for a 
specific coin. 

“The computer lets us know instantly if we have the coin a customer wants in 
stock/' Ivy said. “If we don't, then we can go to our teletype system and find it for 
him. We're the first rare coin company in the Southwest to utilize a computer to im¬ 
prove customer service." 

The computer, he explained, can tell an employee instantly if a customer's 
request for an 1880 proof silver dollar from a specific mint is in stock. In the 
past, looking up that information manually from an inventory of thousands of 
coins could be a time-consuming project. 

Two terminals, one a visual display cathode ray tube resembling a television 
set and another a teletype printer, connect the Dallas firm with the central 
computer on a time-sharing arrangement. The Alpha Systems DEC 10 com¬ 
puter is located in the data processing firm's Noel Page building in Dallas. The 
computer also performs bookkeeping chores, including invoicing, and generates 
a number of reports useful to management in keeping abreast of the rare coin 

The firm maintains teletype communications with 150 dealers across the 
nation and has Telex communications with world gold and silver markets, in¬ 
cluding Zurich. The staff logs some 150,000 miles per year attending shows and 
rare coin auctions throughout the country. 

Ivy, 23, has been a coin collector since age 8. The son of a Fort Worth 
attorney, Ivy opened the rare coin business in Dallas in January of 1970. 

engage in machine-to-machine ex¬ 
changes of data, all at quite reason¬ 
able cost per bit of information. 
Despite this general awareness, there 
is still a common tendency to believe 
that "technological limitations" make 
it impossible to collect information 
for a dossier system of the detail 
described for Roger Smith. 

Such a belief is. simply nonsense. 
To illustrate this fact, we need only 
look at one data memory process 
recently developed by the Precision 
Instrument Company of Palo Alto, 
California. This system uses a one- 
watt, continuous-wave argon laser to 
burn minute "pits" in the opaque 
coating of plastic computer tape. The 
laser is so precise and can be focused 
so intensely that each pit is only one 
micron, or .000039 inch in size. 
Where normal recording has been 

about 5600 bits of information on an 
inch of magnetic tape, the new laser 
process can put 645,000,000 bits in 
microscopic parallel rows on each 
inch. And the recording process 
achieves speeds of 12,000,000 bits per 

Once recorded, the information is 
permanently available for use. To 
read the data, a lower-powered laser 
beam examines the tape as it flies 
past at high velocity, translating the 
light that shines through the pits into 
an electrical pulse that is sent to a 
print-out machine or a computer for 
further use. 

In terms of a dossier society, the 
laser memory system means that a 
single 4800-foot reel of one-inch tape 
could contain about 20 double-spaced 
typed pages of data on every person 
in the United States—man, woman 

and child. It would take only four 
minutes to retrieve a person's dossier 
under such a system. With 100 reels 
of tape, stored in a room no larger 
than 15 feet by 20 feet, 2000 pages 
of data could be maintained on every 
American. Allowing extra time to 
locate the particular reel on which a 
subject's file was stored, his entire 
2000-page dossier could be retrieved 
in about ten minutes. 

The cashless society lies equally 
within technological reach. Enough 
computers could easily be produced 
to handle the volume of transactions 
that would be generated by an auto¬ 
matic economy. Remote-point inquir¬ 
ies and inputs from small desktop 
units to a central computer are in 
common use today in airline- and 
hotel-reservation systems. New types 
of telephone instruments, such as the 
Bell Touch Tone card-dialing system, 
allow bills to be paid from the home 
and permit merchants to verify 
availability of funds before releasing 
products to purchasers. Vending 
machines have been developed that 
use optical scanners to accept credit 
cards. Though there are still some 
problems in achieving unique identifi¬ 
cation of each individual by single 
fingerprint or voiceprint, simultaneous 
use of these techniques could now 
prevent all but the most elaborately 
conceived frauds. Any losses of this 
kind would probably be far less than 
those currently sustained by check 
forgery and stolen credit cards. 
Technologically, then, we now have 
the capability of installing a com¬ 
puterized economic system. 

Even though both the dossier 
network and the automated economy 
are technologically possible, this does 
not mean that American society has 
to use its capabilities in this way. 
Why shouldn't we dismiss this pros¬ 
pect as something that Government 
and private organizations would never 
think of adopting? The answer is that 
several basic social trends in Amer¬ 
ican life have been moving us in 
precisely such a direction during the 
past two decades. 

The first of these trends is the 
enormous expansion of information 
gathering and record keeping in our 
society. Partly, this stems from factors 
such as the increasing complexity of 
our industrial system, the expansion 
of regulatory, welfare and security 

And It Will 
Serve Us Right 


My father, an immigrant from East¬ 
ern Europe, spent his life as a candy- 
store keeper. He made it his 
ambition—as was common among 
immigrants—to see his sons get the 
education he lacked. The results were 
all he could have desired. I, his older 
son, am a professor at a medical 
school and the author of many 
books. His younger son is city editor 
of a large newspaper. 

His reaction to all this has been 
one of unalloyed delight. When I 
pointed out to him, fairly recently, 
that had he had my education, he 
might easily have been I, he shrugged 
it off, and said, "There are two 
times when there is no possibility of 
jealousy: when a pupil surpasses 
his teacher and when a son surpasses 
his father/' 

With all possible respect to my 
father, I must say that I felt a certain 
anxious skepticism when he said this. 
It is all very well for my father, 
denied by circumstances the chance 
of making his mark in person, to be 
happy at making it vicariously. But 
what if he had had his chance, and 
had done quite well, and then saw 
himself surpassed by me. 

Or suppose that I, myself, sud¬ 
denly became aware that I was not, 
after all, entering literary history in 
my own right as Isaac Asimov—some¬ 
thing that I have every reasonable ex¬ 
pectation of doing. Suppose instead 
that I were right now coming to 
realize that I would, after all, enter it 
as a mere footnote—as the father of a 
much greater writer. As it happens, 
the situation does not arise but I tell 
you frankly that if it had, I am not 
at all certain I would have felt my 
father's unselfish joy. 

It is one thing to have something 
for nothing. It is quite another to 
have your own proud light go pale 
and sickly before the greater glory. 

What would Philip of Macedon's 
reaction have been, I wonder, if after 
his quarter-century of heroic striving, 
during which he raised his country 
from a backwoods nation of semi¬ 
barbarians to the mastery of Greece, 
he had gained a sudden insight that 
he was destined to go down in his¬ 
tory as "the father of Alexander the 
Great"? What about Frederick 
William I of Prussia, who in a 
quarter-century of forceful rule built 
an awesome and frightening army out 

of a patchwork kingdom? What 
would have been his reaction if he 
had been made to understand that 
his place in the annals of man would 
be that of "the father of Frederick 
the Great"? 

At that, they might have had 
some instinctive feeling of it, for each 
father hated his son, even to the 
point of threatening that son's life. 

Hostility between royal father and 
heir-apparent son is commonplace for 
there the conflict of present and fu¬ 
ture glory is all too obvious. Such 
hostility happens to be most tradi¬ 
tional in the British royal family, 
dating back to the time when Henry 
II hated his sons (who were well 
worth his hatred) eight centuries ago. 

The ancient Greeks, who thought 
of everything, took up the matter of 
the fear of the outshining glory of 
son or pupil in their myths and leg¬ 
ends. Daedalus, the great craftsman 
and inventor of Greek tales, killed his 
nephew and pupil, Perdix, out of 
overwhelming jealousy, when that 
young man showed signs of becoming 
superior to his teacher. 

More dramatic are the tales of the 
succession of supreme gods. The first 
ruler of the Universe, in the Greek 
myths, was Ouranos. His son, Cronos, 
castrated and replaced him. 

But once Cronos was seated on 
the throne, he was concerned lest he 
be served by his sons as he had served 
his own father. Therefore as his wife, 
Rhea, bore him sons, he swallowed 
each in turn. When Zeus was born, 
however, Rhea fooled her husband by 
placing a stone in swaddling clothes, 
and that was swallowed instead. 

Zeus was reared to manhood in 
secret and, in time, warred against his 
father, replacing him as lord of the 

There matters stood as far as the 
Greek myths were concerned, and yet 
Zeus was in danger, too. He and 
Poseidon (his brother, and god of the 
sea) both fell in love with the beauti¬ 
ful sea-nymph, Thetis. They com¬ 
peted for the privilege of possessing 
her, until both hurriedly drew back 
on hearing that the Fates had de¬ 
creed that Thetis would bear a son 
mightier than his father. 

No god now dared marry the 
nymph and Zeus compelled Thetis 
(quite against her will) to marry a 
mortal. The mortal was Peleus, and 

functions by Government and the 
growth of large-scale bureaucracies in 
our corporations, universities, unions 
and churches. Partly, the growth in 
record collection stems from the 
breakdown of traditional, face-to-face 
techniques for personal evaluation of 
individuals by authorities. In an age 
of increased personal mobility, na¬ 
tionalization of culture and standard¬ 
ized mass education, when so many 
people within each socioeconomic 
group look, talk and think alike, "the 
file 7 ' becomes the Government's 
instrument for distinguishing among 

Similarly, the turn of social science 
from rational or interest-seeking 
models of human motivation to heavily 
psychological and sociological ex¬ 
planations of human behavior means 
that masses of highly personal data 
must be collected to analyze events 
"scientifically" and make wise choices 
in public policy. Self-disclosure by 
individuals, then, becomes an obliga¬ 
tion of good citizenship in the 
modern age, as well as an act of 
faith in "science." 

Thus, when each American today 
reaches the gatekeepers of public and 
private authority, the official's basic 
response is to open a file on him, 
ask for extensive self-revelation, con¬ 

duct independent investigations and 
share information with other certified 
file managers of our society. If any¬ 
one thinks this is an exaggerated 
portrait, just stop and think for one 
moment: How many Government 
forms and reports on yourself or 
your family did you fill out during 
the past year? How many question¬ 
naires did you answer about yourself? 
How many progress reports on your 
activities did you file with financial, 
employment and organizational 
authorities? How many investigations 
of yourself do you think were con¬ 
ducted without your knowledge? How 
many investigators asked you about 
other people's lives? How many 
evaluations of others did you contrib¬ 
ute to the permanent files? Did you 
ever refuse to answer questions about 
others or yourself? Do you know 
anyone who did? 

This growth of investigations, 
dossiers and information sharing has 
been, of course, enormously accelerated 
by the advent of the computer. 

Now, private and public organizations 
can process 10, 50, 100 times as much 
personal information about their 
employees, clients or wards than was 
ever possible in the eras of print, 
paper and analysis by eyes and ears. 
The older barriers of too much cost, 

not enough time and too much error 
that once protected privacy of personal 
transactions have been overcome by 
the computer in just the same way 
the barriers of closed rooms or open 
spaces that once protected privacy 
of conversation have been swept away 
by new electronic eavesdropping 

The impact of the computer is not 
just economic, however. Its real force 
is on the mental processes of our 
society, in the way we think we 
should make decisions once we have 
machines that are capable of accept¬ 
ing, storing and processing so much 
information. When machines can 
store so much data, and so many 
questions that we once thought beyond 
our capacities to resolve can be 
answered factually and logically, our 
society comes to expect that decisions 
of business, government and science 
ought to be based on analysis of all 
the data. Anyone who advocates 
withholding the necessary data from 
the information systems in the name 
of fragile values such as privacy or 
liberty may be seen as blocking man's 
most promising opportunity in his¬ 
tory—to know himself and to make 
more rational, more predictable deci¬ 
sions about human affairs. 

he was the father of Achilles, the 
great hero of the Trojan war, a son 
far mightier than his father. 

In the light of this, it seems to 
me, it is not at all puzzling that peo¬ 
ple generally are afraid of robots 
generally. Why should not man fear 
the man-made man, the “son” of his 
hands, who may surpass him and 
prove mightier than this “father”? 

Not so much man-made woman, 
you understand. In most early so¬ 
cieties women were considered 
inferior creatures who could not 
threaten man's priority. Pygmalion of 
Cyprus could fall in love with the 
statue, Galatea, pray it alive and 
marry her. Hephaistos, the Greek god 
of the forge, could have golden 
maidens minister to him in a counter¬ 
feit of life. Man-made man , how¬ 
ever—the son, and not the daughter— 
was terrifying. Crete was guarded by 
a bronze giant, Talos, according to 
legend, who circled the island once a 
day and destroyed all outsiders who 
landed there. He had one weak spot, 
however, a stopper in the heel, which 
if pulled out would allow him to 
bleed to death. Jason and the Argo¬ 
nauts, on touching down at Crete on 
the way back from the adventure of 
the Golden Fleece, defeated Talos by 
pulling out that stopper. 

To be sure, this is transparent 
symbolism. Crete, prior to 1400 B.C., 
was held inviolate by its bronze- 
armored warriors on board the ships 
of the first great navy of history, but 
the Greeks of the mainland finally 
defeated it. 

However, there are all sorts of 
symbols that might be used to repre¬ 
sent historical facts and the Greeks 
chose to envision a mechanical man 
far more powerful than ordinary man, 
and one who could be defeated only 
with the greatest danger and 

The theme crops up over and 
over again throughout the legends of 
the ages. Man creates a mechanical 
device that in one way or another is 
intended to serve man within well- 
defined limits—and invariably the 
device oversteps the bounds, be¬ 
comes too powerful, becomes danger¬ 
ous, must be stopped and scarcely 

It is the case of the sorcerer's ap¬ 
prentice who brings the broom to life 
and then can't stop it. It is the case 

of the medieval rabbis who power 
golems of clay with the divine name, 
and then find that the power must 
be withdrawn, through difficulty and 
danger, before the manufactured 
man threatens the world. 

In Christian times, a rationaliza¬ 
tion was advanced. A kind of life and 
intelligence could be created by man, 
but only God could create a soul. 

Any man-made man would be a soul¬ 
less being, without the aspirations 
and moral understanding of a souled 

But this seems to me to be far 
too sophisticated to touch the point 
of basic fear. Surely the mechanical 
man created to serve, but growing to 
surpass and endanger his creator, is 
the sublimated fear of the son, the 
beloved child who grows to surpass 
and endanger his father. Our fear of 
the robot is our fear of the son of 
Thetis destined to be stronger than 
his father. 

Until the 19th Century, that fear 
was only a whisper. Life could (in 
imagination) be imparted to inani¬ 
mate objects only through divine 
intervention, entreated by prayer or 
enforced by magic. In 1798, however, 

the Italian anatomist, Luigi Galvani, 
discovered that the dead muscles of 
frogs could be made to contract by 
an electric shock. There seemed some 
connection between electricity and 
life and the thought arose that life 
could be restored to dead flesh inside 
the laboratory and without the in¬ 
volvement of the unpredictable 
powers of the deities. The fear came 
closer and into sharper focus at once. 

It was precisely Galvani's discovery 
that inspired Mary Wollstonecraft 
Shelley (the second wife of the poet) 
to write her famous horror novel, 
Frankenstein , published in 1818. In 
the novel a young anatomy student 
gathers together parts of freshly dead 
bodies and infuses them with elec¬ 
trical life. What he has created, 
however, is an eight-foot-tall monster 
of horrifying aspect. 

Possessing intelligence and aware 
that he is forever cut off from human 
society, the monster turns upon the 
man whose interference with the 
course of nature has condemned him 
to solitary misery. One by one, the 
monster kills all of Frankenstein's 
family and friends, including his 
bride. Frankenstein himself dies of 

- - All we will require is a com¬ 
puter, however simple, to form 
another more complex than itself, 
however slightly. That will be the 
chain reaction that will produce 
the computer explosion. . . 

horror and remorse and the monster 
disappears into the mysterious polar 

The book gave the language a 
phrase: "Frankenstein’s monster/’ 
now used for any creation which gets 
out of control, to the danger and 
horror of its creator. By its popu¬ 
larity, the novel sharpened the gen¬ 
eral suspicion that man-made man 
could be only evil; something which 
I, in my own writings, have referred 
to as "the Frankenstein complex.” 

Yet Frankenstein was written 
when science was in the flood-tide of 
its vigorous youthful optimism and 
when it seemed, to confident man¬ 
kind, to be the ultimate answer to 
man’s needs. It was not till World 
War I that science donned the mask 
of Strangelove horror. It was the 
warplane and even more, poison gas, 
that showed mankind that the genius 
of the laboratory and inventor’s work¬ 
shop could be turned to death and 

It is no accident that, soon after 
World War I, Frankenstein was out- 
Frankensteined. With inherently 
wicked man-made man constructed 
by a science that was itself capable of 
wickedness, it would not only be the 
creator that was threatened, but all 

In 1920 a play, R.U.R., by the 
Czech playwright, Karel Capek, was 
produced in Prague. In this play, 
man-made men were created as 
workers, to take over the muscle- 
labor of the world and to free men 
from Adam’s curse at last. The char¬ 
acter of the inventor, Rossum, called 
his creation, "worker.” In the Czech 
language, the word is "robot” and 
this promptly entered the English 
language. R.U.R. stands for "Rossum’s 
Universal Robots.” 

It all works out ill. Men, without 
work, lose ambition and stop siring 
children. The robots are used in war; 
they grow more complex and go mad; 
they rebel against mankind and 
destroy it. In the end only two 
robots are left. These exhibit human 

emotions and it is through them the 
world will be repeopled. 

Mankind has been replaced by 
robots. Zeus has sired the mightier 
son of Thetis. 

In the middle 1920s, the first 
science-fiction magazine was pub¬ 
lished—the first periodical devoted 
entirely to the imaginative evocation 
of possible scientific futures—and 
the era of modern science fiction be¬ 
gan. With it there came an exploita¬ 
tion of the common motifs worked 
out earlier by such masters as Jules 
Verne and H. G. Wells. 

Robots werfe not neglected. There 
were numerous tales of man-made 
man, but always, or almost always, 
the end was the same. The robot 
turned on its maker; the son grew 
dangerous to the father. Where this 
did not happen, it seemed as though 
the author were merely seeking a 
novel "twist,” using the shock value 
of a kindly robot to produce curiosity 
rather than to display the result of 
natural development. 

That this wearisome parade of 
clanking monsters, forever parodying 
Shelley and Capek, came to an end 
was the result of certain stories that 
I wrote. 

When I began to write robot 
stories in 1939, I was 19. years old. I 
did not feel the fright in the son- 
father relationship. Perhaps through 
the accident of the particular rela¬ 
tionship of my father and myself, I 
was given no hint, ever, that there 
might be jealousy on the part of the 
father or danger on the part of the 
son. My father labored, in part, so 
that I might learn; and I learned,,in 
part, so that my father might be 
gratified. The symbiosis was complete 
and beneficial, and I naturally saw a 
similar symbiosis in the relationship 
of man and robot. 

Why should a robot hurt a man? 
It would be designed not to. 

My first robot story appeared in 
the September 1940 issue of Super 
Science Stories and was entitled 
"Strange Playfellow.” It dealt with a 

Mind-Reading Computer 

Time Magazine 

The experiment looks like some ingenious test of mental telepathy. Seated 
inside a small isolation booth with wires trailing from the helmet on her head, 
the subject seems deep in concentration. She does not speak or move. Near by, 
a white-coated scientist intently watches a TV screen. Suddenly, a little white 
dot hovering in the center of the screen comes to life. It sweeps to the top of 
the screen, then it reverses itself and comes back down. After a pause, it veers 
to the right, stops, moves to the left, momentarily speeds up and finally halts— 
almost as if it were under the control of some external intelligence. 

In fact, it is. The unusual experiment, conducted at the Stanford Research 
Institute in Menlo Park, Calif., is a graphic display of one of the newest and 
most dazzling breakthroughs in cybernetics.* It shows that a computer can, in 
a very real sense, read human minds. Although the dot’s gyrations were directed 
by a computer, the machine was only carrying out the orders of the test sub¬ 
ject. She, in turn, did nothing more than think about what the dot’s movements 
should be. 

Brainchild of S.R.I. researcher Lawrence Pinneo, a 46-year-old neurophysiol¬ 
ogist and electronics engineer, the computer mind-reading technique is far more 
than a laboratory stunt. Though computers can solve extraordinarily complex 
problems with incredible speed, the information they digest is fed to them by 
such slow, cumbersome tools as typewriter keyboards or punched tapes. It is for 
this reason that scientists have long been tantalized by the possibility of open¬ 
ing up a more direct link between human and electronic brains. 


Although Pinneo and others have experimented with computer systems that 
respond to voice commands, he decided that there might be a more direct 
method than speech. The key to his scheme: the electroencephalograph, a de- 

*A word coined by the late computer theorist, Norbert Wiener, from the Greek kybernetes for pilot or gov¬ 
ernor, to describe the study of the brain and central nervous system as compared with computers. 

robot nursemaid, named "Robbie/' It 
was loved by the little girl it cared 
for but was distrusted by the little 
girl's mother. 

At one point, when the mother 
expresses her concern, the little girl's 
father tries to argue her out of her 

"Dear! A robot is infinitely more 
to be trusted than a human nurse¬ 
maid. Robbie was constructed for 
only one purpose—to be the com¬ 
panion of a little child. His entire 
'mentality' has been created for the 
purpose. He just can't help being 
faithful and loving and kind. He's a 
machine— made so." 

There you are. Already I had the 
dim notion that in the manufacture 
of a robot, a deliberate design of 
harmlessness would be built in. 

This idea developed further. By 
the time I wrote my third robot 
story, "Liar!," I was ready to be 
more formal and precise about this 
matter of harmlessness. In "Liar!," 
published in the May 1941 issue of 

Astounding Science Fiction , one 
person says to another, "You know 
the fundamental law impressed upon 
the positronic brain of all robots, 
of course." 

And the answer comes, "Certainly. 
On no condition is a human being to 
be injured in any way, even when 
such injury is directly ordered by 
another human." 

But then this cannot be all that 
must be impressed upon a robot's 
mind. By the time I wrote my fifth 
robot story, "Runaround" (published 
in the March 1942 issue of Astound¬ 
ing Science Fiction) I had worked 
out my "Three Laws of Robotics." 
(The word "robotics" is, as far as I 
know, my invention.) Here they are 
in final form: 


1. A robot may not injure a human 
being or, through inaction, allow a 
human being to come to harm. 

2. A robot must obey the orders 
given it by human beings except 

. . If ever a species needed to 
be replaced for the good of the 
planet, we do. . . 

where such orders would conflict with 
the First Law. 

3. A robot must protect its own 
existence as long as such protection 
does not conflict with either the 
First or the Second Law. 

I am the only science-fiction writer 
who actually quotes the Three Laws 
in fiction, but readers have come to 
take them for granted. Other writers 
of robot stories tend to accept them 
and to write within the frame of the 
Three Laws even though they do not 
state them explicitly. I am entirely 
happy over that. 

To be sure, this is not an absolute 
requirement. In the motion picture, 
2001: A Space Odyssey , and in the 
novel written from it by my good 
friend, Arthur C. Clarke, the complex 
computer, Hal—a robot in the broad 
sense of the word—brings about the 
deaths of several human beings. This 
disturbed me, and impressed me as a 
retrogressive step, but it doesn't seem 
to bother Arthur at all. 

But what about computers? Even 
if we classify them as a kind of robot 
evolved to all-brain-no-body, and 

Stanford Research Institute is developing 
a system in which a computer interprets 
electrical signals of the brain. The subject, 
with electrodes taped to her scalp, is 
asked to say or think particular words in 
an effort to determine whether specific 
patterns of electrical activity of the brain 
are related to specific words. 

vice used by medical researchers to pick up electrical currents from various parts 
of the brain. If he could learn to identify brain waves generated by specific 
thoughts or commands, Pinneo figured, he might be able to teach the same 
skill to a computer. The machine might even be able to react to those com¬ 
mands by, say, moving a dot across a TV screen. 

Pinneo could readily pick out specific commands. But, like fingerprints, the 
patterns varied sufficiently from one human test subject to another to fool the 
computer. Pinneo found a way to deal with this problem by storing a large 
variety of patterns in the computer's memory. When the computer had to deal 
with a fresh pattern, it could search its memory for the brain waves most like 
it. So far the S.R.I. computer has been taught to recognize seven different 
commands-up, down, left, right, slow, fast and stop. Working with a total of 
25 different people, it makes the right move 60% of the time. 

Pinneo is convinced that this barely passing grade can be vastly improved. 

He foresees the day when computers will be able to recognize the smallest units 
in the English language—the 40-odd basic sounds (or phonemes) out of which 
all words or verbalized thoughts can be constructed. Such skills could be put 
to many practical uses. The pilot of a high-speed plane or spacecraft, for in¬ 
stance, could simply order by thought alone some vital flight information for 
an all-purpose cockpit display. There would be no need to search for the right 
dials or switches on a crowded instrument panel. 

Pinneo does not worry that mind-reading computers might be abused by 
Big Brotherly governments or overly zealous police trying to ferret out the 
innermost thoughts of citizens. Rather than a menace, he says, they could be a 
highly civilizing influence. In the future, Pinneo speculates, technology may 
well be sufficiently advanced to feed information from the computer directly 
back into the brain. People with problems, for example, might don mind¬ 
reading helmets ("thinking caps") that let the computer help them untangle 
everything from complex tax returns to matrimonial messes. Adds Pinneo: 
^When the person takes this thing off, he might feel pretty damn dumb." 

- - Not only man-made man is 
possible, but man-made super¬ 
man, too- ■ . 

place them under the Three Laws, 
might they still not become uncom¬ 
fortably complex and capable? Even 
if the son does not become dangerous 
to the father physically, might he 
not, with the best will in the world, 
become dangerous psychologically? 
Might he not force the father to 
admit the inferiority? Might the 
father be forced to hand over the 
Universe to a kindly and regretful 
but inexorably demanding son? 

There is, on the part of those 
who secretly fear this, a strong ten¬ 
dency to downgrade the possibility 
as, I suspect, a matter of self¬ 

The computer can not equal the 
human brain, is their feeling. The 
computer can not do any more than 
it is programmed to do. The com¬ 
puter can never exhibit intuitive 
qualities of creativity and genius, as 
can the human brain. 

I wonder if there is not also a 
definite feeling, usually not expressed, 
out of a certain mid 20th Century 
embarrassment, that man has some¬ 
thing called a soul that a computer 
cannot have; that a man is a product 
of the divine and a computer cannot 

It's my opinion that none of these 
arguments is convincing. 

The most advanced computer of 
today is an idiot child compared to 
the human brain, yes. But then, con¬ 
sider, that the human brain is the 
product of perhaps three billion years 
of organic evolution, while the elec¬ 
tronic computer is, as such, only 30 
years old. After all, is it too much to 
ask for just 30 years more? 

What is to set the limit of further 
computer development? In theory, 
nothing. There is nothing magic 
about the creative abilities of the 
human brain, its intuitions, its genius. 
(I am always amused to hear some 
perfectly ordinary human being pon¬ 
tificate that a "computer can't 
compose a symphony" as though he 
himself could.) The human brain is 
made up of a finite number of cells 
of finite complexity, arranged in a 
pattern of finite complexity. When a 
computer is built of an eaual number 

of equally complex cells in an equally 
complex arrangement, we will have 
something that can do just as much 
as a human brain can do to its utter¬ 
most genius. 

To deny this is to maintain that 
there is something more in the 
human brain than the cells that com¬ 
pose it and the interrelationships 
among them. 

And if human brain and man¬ 
made brain reach the same level of 
complexity, I feel it will be a lot 
easier to design a still more compli¬ 
cated man-made brain than to breed 
a still more complex human brain. So 
not only man-made man is possible, 
but man-made superman, too. 

And how long will it take to reach 
the human brain level? A million 
years? A billion? 

That, I suspect, is more consola¬ 
tion. Much less time, much less time 
may be required. 

The key problem will be this: To 
design a computer capable of formu¬ 
lating the design of another com¬ 
puter just slightly more complex than 
itself. Such a computer would natu¬ 
rally design another computer that 
was somewhat more capable than 
itself in designing another computer 
still more complex, which would be 
still more capable of designing still 
another computer even more complex 
and so on. 

We will be faced, then, with what 
mathematicians would call a diverg¬ 
ing series. 

Once the crucial moment arrives 
when a computer can design one 
greater than itself, computers will 
follow in rapid succession and rise 
out of sight. The son of Thetis will 
have been born. 

And when will that crucial mo¬ 
ment come? It might arrive long 
before the computer is as complex as 
the human brain. All we will require 
is a computer, however simple, to 
form another more complex than 
itself, however slightly. That will be 
the chain reaction that will produce 
the computer explosion. And the 
crucial moment may come next year 
for all I know. 

And what if it does? What if the 
computer shows signs of getting away 
from us? Would we be face to face 
with a real Frankenstein's monster at 
last? Must we all struggle to destroy 

the thinf* before the rlivercrenr'p r»rn_ 

ceeds to the point where we are 
helpless before it? 

Will the computers (oh, horrible 
thought!) take over? 

What if they do? The history of 
life on Earth has been one long tale 
of "taking over." From era to era, 
different forms of life have proved 
dominant in one major environmen¬ 
tal niche or the other. The placo- 
derms "took over" from the trilobites, 
and the modern fish "took over" 
from the placoderms. 

The reptiles "took over" from 
the amphibia and the mammals 
"took over" from the reptiles. 

Mankind looks upon the history of 
evolution and approves of all this 
"taking over" for it all leads up to 
the moment when Man, proud and 
destructive Man, has "taken over." 

Are we to stop here? Is Ouranos to 
be replaced by Cronos, and Cronos 
by Zeus, and no more—thus far and 
no farther? Is Thetis to be disposed 
of rather than risk the chance of 
further replacement? 

But why? What has changed? 
Evolution continues as before, though 
in a modified manner. Instead of 
species changing and growing better 
adapted to their environment through 
the blind action of mutation and 
the relentless winnowing of natural 
selection, we have reached the point 
where evolution can be guided and 
the Successor can be deliberately 

And it might be good. The planet 
groans under the weight of 3.4 billion 
human beings, destined to be seven 
billion by 2010. It is continually 
threatened by nuclear holocaust and 
is inexorably being poisoned by the 
wastes and fumes of civilization. Sure, 
it is time and more than time for 
mankind to be "taken over" from. If 
ever a species needed to be replaced 
for the good of the planet, we do. 

There isn't much time left, in 
fact. If the son of Thetis doesn't 
come within a generation, or, at most 
two, there may be nothing left worth 
"taking over." 

Is it just science fiction-—the idea of building computers 
with brains like those of humans? As a practical matter, 
how could it be done? Exactly what is the danger of 
“thinking machines” getting out of hand, taking over from 
man himself? 

In this exclusive interview with “U.S. News & World 
Report,” one of the world’s foremost computer experts 
probes an exciting future. 

Machines Smarter Than Men? 


Q Dr. Wiener, is there any danger that machines—that is, 
computers—will someday get the upper hand over men? 
A There is, definitely, that danger if we don't take a realistic 

The danger is essentially intellectual laziness. Some peo¬ 
ple have been so bamboozled by the word "machine" that 
they don't realize what can be done and what cannot be 
done with machines—and what can be left, and what cannot 
be left, to the human beings. 

Q Is there a tendency to overemphasize the use of com¬ 

A There is a worship of gadgetry. People are fascinated by 
gadgets. The machines are there to be used by man, and if 
man prefers to leave the whole matter of the mode of their 
employment to the machine, by overworship of the machine 
or unwillingness to make decisions—whether you call it lazi¬ 
ness or cowardice—then we're in for trouble. 

Q Do you agree with a prediction, sometimes heard, that 
machines are going to be constructed that will be smarter 
than man? 

A May I say, if the man isn't smarter than the machine, 
then it's just too bad. But that isn't our being assassinated 
by the machine. That will be suicide. 

Q Is there actually a trend for machines to become more 
sophisticated, smarter? 

A We're making much more sophisticated machines and 
we're going to make much more sophisticated machines in 
the next few years. There are things that haven't come to the 
public attention at all now, things that make many of us 
believe that this is going to happen within a decade or so. 
Q Can you give us a look into the future? 

A I can. One of the big things about machines has been 
miniaturization—cutting down the size of the components. 
Where, at the beginning of the development of computers, 
a machine would have to be as big as the Empire State 
Building, it can be reduced now to something that you could 
fit into a rather small room. One of the chief factors in this 
miniaturization has been the introduction of new types of 
"memories," memories depending on solid-state physics—on 
transistors, and things of that sort. 

]SJnw tPq hpmmina inf-pr^cfina fn aclr- “Hnu/ rlr^c 

human brain do it?" And for the first time within the last 
year or so, we're getting a real idea of that. 

You know, genetic memory—the memory of our genes¬ 
is largely dependent on substances which are nucleic-acid 
complexes. Within this last year it's coming to be pretty 
generally suspected that the memory of the nervous system is 
of the same sort of thing. This is indicated by the discovery 
of nucleic-acid complexes in the brain and by the fact that 
they have the properties that would give a good memory. 
This is a very subtle sort of solid-state physics, like the 
physics which is used in the memory of machines now. 

My hunch is—and I'm not alone in this—that the next 
decade or so will see this used technically. 

Q In other words, instead of a magnetic tape as a memory 
core of a computer, you will have genes— 

A You will have substances allied to genes. Whether you 
call them genes or not is a matter of phraseology, but sub¬ 
stances of the same sort. 

Now, that will involve a lot of new fundamental research. 
How to get in and out of these genetic memories—how to 
put them to use—involves much research which has scarcely 
started yet. Several of us have hunches—these are not veri¬ 
fied—that this can be done by light of specific molecular 
spectra, to get in and out of the complexes. Whether that's 
so or not, I won't swear. But that is a thing some of us are 
considering seriously. 

Q Is this a prospect that should frighten people? 

A Any prospect will frighten people. It should frighten 
people if it is applied without understanding. With under¬ 
standing this can be a very valuable tool. 

Q Can you describe a computer that would use genes as a 
memory device? What would it be capable of? 

A That would sound too much like science fiction to talk 
about now. 

Q What would the capability of this machine be, com¬ 
pared to the computers you have today? 

A It might be enormously greater. The machine could be 
much smaller; it could carry a much larger set of data. But 
anything that I would say about this would be not only 
premature but hopelessly premature. But work is to be done 
in tTinsp fiplds I’m rprtain 

When you’ve eaten of the fruit of 
the tree of knowledge, there isn’t 
much you can do except go 
ahead with that knowledge. 

Q People are already saying the computers “think.” Is 
this so? 

A Taking things as of the present time, computers can 
learn. Computers can learn to improve their performance by 
examining it. That is definitely true. Whether you call that 
thinking or not is a terminological matter. That this sort of 
thing will go much further in the future, as our ability to 
build up more complicated computers increases, I should 
say is certain. 


Q Is there a chance that machines may learn more than 
man? Are they doing this now? 

A Certainly not now and certainly not for a long time, if 
ever. But if they do, it's because we have ceased to learn. 
I mean, it's easier for us to learn than for the machine. If 
we worship the machine, and leave everything to the ma¬ 
chine, we've got ourselves to thank for any trouble we get in. 

Here is the point: The computer is extremely good at 
working rapidly, at working in a unique way on well-pre¬ 
sented data. The computer doesn't compare with the human 
being in handling data that haven't yet jelled. If you call 
that intuition—I won't say that intuition is impossible for 
the computer, but it's much, much lower and it isn't eco¬ 
nomical to try to make the computer do things that the 
human being does so much better. 

Q What exactly is a learning machine? 

A A learning machine is one which not only, say, plays a 
game according to fixed rules, with a fixed policy, but peri¬ 
odically or continuously examines the results of that policy 
to determine whether certain parameters, certain quantities, 
in that policy could be changed to advantage. 

Q The example that always comes to mind is machines 
that play checkers— 

A Well, take checkers. The machine was good enough to 
be able, after a while, to systematically defeat its inventor 
until he learned a little more about checkers. 

Q Why is this not so with chess? 

A Because chess is more complicated. It will be so with 
chess, but it's a much bigger job. 

Q Are machines being taught to write? 

A Yes. There are machines which will take a code and put 
it into handwriting, or take handwriting as well as printing 
and put it into a code. Oh, yes, that's being worked—you 
can even take speech and put it into a code. 

Q Is it science fiction to talk about “thinking robots " 
taking over the earth? 

A It is science fiction, unless people get the idea, "Leave 
it all to 'Tin Mike.'" I mean, if we regard the machine not 

as an adjunct to our powers but as something to extend our 
powers, we can keep it controlled. Otherwise we can't. 

The gadget worshipers who expect the machine to do 
everything, and let people sit down and take it easy, have 
another think coming. 

Q Are computers being used intelligently today? 

A In 10 per cent of the cases, yes. 

Q This is a startlingly low figure. Why do you say that? 
A Because it takes intelligence to know what to give to 
the machine. And in many cases the machine is used to buy 
intelligence that isn't there. 

The computer is just as valuable as the man using it. It 
can allow him to cover more ground in the same time. But 
he's got to have the ideas. And in the early stage of testing 
the ideas, you shouldn't be dependent on using computers. 
Q Is this true also in the use of computers as the basis for 
automation? That is to say 7 is automation in some cases 
being unintelligently employed? 

A It most definitely is. But, as for examples, that is not 
my field. 

Q What are some of the things that computers can be used 
for intelligently , and do better than humans? 

A Bookkeeping, selling tickets, and keeping a record of 
that sort. When you've got your plan of computation, ma¬ 
chines can carry it out much better than man can. And com¬ 
puters of the future will do these things very much better. 
They'll have enough variety so they can afford to do what 
the brain does—waste a lot of effort and still get something. 
Q Are these machines of the future going to take away a 
lot more jobs from humans? 

A They will. 

Q That will sharpen a problem that already exists. What 
is the solution? 

A The answer is that we can no longer value a man by the 
jobs he does. We've got to value him as a man. 

Here is the point: A whole lot of the work that we are 
using men for is work which really is done better by com¬ 
puters. That is, for a long time human energy hasn't been 
worth much as far as physical energy goes. A man couldn't 
possibly generate enough energy today to buy the food for 
his own body. 

The actual commercial value of his services in modern 
culture isn't enough. If we value people, we can't value 
people on that basis. 

If we insist on using the machines everywhere, irrespective 
of people, and don't go to very fundamental considerations 
and give people their proper place in the world, we're sunk. 
Q Is it too late to halt this drive toward more and more 

Is it possible for machines to 
declare war and doom all 

A What has been done is irrevocable. I saw this at the 
very beginning. It isn't merely the fact that the computers 
are being used. It's the fact that they stand ready to be used, 
which is the real difficulty. 

In other words, the reason we can't go back is that we can 
never destroy the possibility of computers' being used. 

Q Do you consider it an irreversible trend? 

A I'm not even speaking about the trend. It's an irreversible 
piece of knowledge. It's the sort of thing that happened to 
Adam and Eve when they had that encounter with the 
serpent. When you've eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowl¬ 
edge, there isn't much you can do except go ahead with that 

Q So people can look for machines to play still more of a 
role in automation , in running businesses, in education— 
A We can. And, at any rate, whether we use machines or 
not—which is a decision which we have to make one way or 
another—the fact that they are there to be used cannot be 
turned off. 

Q Are you saying that it might be a wiser decision not to 
make use of some of these machines7 
A It may be wiser in particular situations. I'll give you a 
simple example: 

It is very easy now, with automatization, to make a factory 
which can produce more than the whole market can con¬ 
sume. If you go and simply push production up, you may hit 
the ceiling. Competition, as it has been understood in the 
past, has been greatly changed by the existence of automa¬ 
tization. Automatization no longer fits in with laissez faire. 
Q If there is developed in the next decade the kind of ad¬ 
vanced machinery that you've hinted at, how can further 
automation be restrained? 

A More than once, advance has been restrained in the past. 
It isn't necessary, if we make a new weapon, to use it 

Q On your last trip to Russia, did you find the Soviets 
placing much emphasis on the computer? 

A I'll tell you how much emphasis they're placing on it. 
They have an institute in Moscow. They have an institute in 
Kiev. They have an institute in Leningrad. They have one in 
Yerevan in Armenia, in Tiflis, in Samarkand, in Tashkent 
and Novosibirsk. They may have others. 

Q Are they making full use of this science, in a way com¬ 
parable to ours? 

A The general verdict—and this is from many different 

people—is that they're behind us in hardware—not hope¬ 
lessly, but slightly. They are ahead of us in the theorization 
of automatization. 

Q Dr. Wiener, is it necessary today to use computers for 
military decisions? 

A Yes, and they can be used very unwisely. 

I've no doubt that the problem of when to push the "big 
button" is being considered from the learning-machine point 
of view. If it isn't, I should be very surprised, because these 
ideas are current. You know: Let "Tin Mike" do it. 

But let's look at this a little bit more in detail. How do 
soldiers learn their job? By war games. They have for cen¬ 
turies played games on the map. All right, if you have a 
certain formal criterion for what winning a war is, you can do 
this. But you'd better be sure that your criterion is what you 
really want and not a formalization of what you want. Other¬ 
wise, you can‘make a computer that will win the war tech¬ 
nically and destroy everything. 

Q How can you program a computer for a nuclear war if 
you've never had any actual experience in that kind of war? 
A You can't completely. But, nevertheless, that is what 
people are trying to do. 

There are no experts in atomic war. An expert is a man 
who is experienced. This man does not exist today. There¬ 
fore, the programing of war games by artificial criteria of 
success is highly dangerous and likely to come out wrong. 
Q Is there a tendency to that kind of programing? 

A There is a tendency in that direction, and it strikes me 
as top-level foolishness. The automation has the property of 
what magic once was supposed to have. It may give you 
what you ask for, but it won't tell you what to ask for. 

We have heard people say that we need to develop ma¬ 
chine systems which will tell us when to push the button. 
What we need are systems that will tell us what happens if 
we push the button under a lot of different circumstances 
—and, importantly, tell us when not to push the button. 
Q Do you mean it is possible for machines to declare war 
and doom all mankind? 

A If we let them. Obviously they won't declare war unless 
we create a setup by which they will. 

Q Dr. Wiener, is man changing his environment beyond 
his capacity to adjust to it? 

A That's the $64 question. He's certainly changing it 
greatly, and if he is doing it beyond his capacity, we'll know 
soon enough. Or we won't know—we won't be here. 

On the Impact 
of the Computer 
on Society _ 


(An excerpt from the original article) 
How does one insult a machine? 

The direct societal effects of any per¬ 
vasive new technology are as nothing 
compared to its much more subtle 
and ultimately much more important 
side effects. In that sense, the societal 
impact of the computer has not yet 
been felt. 

To help firmly fix the idea of the 
importance of subtle indirect effects 
of technology, consider the impact on 
society of the invention of the micro¬ 
scope. When it was invented in the 
middle of the 17th century, the dom¬ 
inant commonsense theory of disease 
was fundamentally that disease was a 
punishment wisited upon an indi¬ 
vidual by God. The sinner's body 
was thought to be inhabited by vari¬ 
ous so-called humors brought into 
disequilibrium in accordance with 
divine justice. The cure for disease 
was therefore to be found first in 
penance and second in the balancing 
of humors as, for example, by bleed¬ 
ing. Bleeding was, after all, both 
painful, hence punishment and 
penance, and potentially balancing 
in that it actually removed substance 
from the body. The microscope en¬ 
abled man to see microorganisms and 
thus paved the way for the germ 
theory of disease. The enormously 
surprising discovery of extremely 
small living organisms also induced 
the idea of a continuous chain of 
life which, in turn, was a necessary 
intellectual precondition for the 
emergence of Darwinism. Both the 
germ theory of disease and the 
theory of evolution profoundly al¬ 
tered man's conception of his con¬ 
tract with God and consequently his 
self-image. Politically these ideas 
served to help diminish the power of 
the Church and, more generally, to 
legitimize the questioning of the 
basis of hitherto unchallenged author¬ 
ity. I do not say that the microscope 
alone was responsible for the enor¬ 
mous social changes that followed its 
invention. Only that it made possible 
the kind of paradigm shift, even on 
the commonsense level, without 
which these changes might have been 

Is it reasonable to ask whether the 
computer will induce similar changes 
in man's image of himself and 
whether that influence will prove to 
be its most important effect on 
society? I think so, although I hasten 
to add that I don't believe the com¬ 

puter has yet told us much about 
man and his nature. To come to 
grips with the question, we must 
first ask in what way the computer is 
different from man's many other 
machines. Man has built two funda¬ 
mentally different kinds of machines, 
nonautonomous and autonomous. An 
autonomous machine is one that 
operates for long periods of time, 
not on the basis of inputs from the 
real world, for example from sensors 
or from human drivers, but on the 
basis of internalized models of some 
aspect of the real world. Clocks 
are examples of autonomous ma¬ 
chines in that they operate on the 
basis of an internalized model of the 
planetary system. The computer is, 
of course, the example par excellence. 
It is able to internalize models of 
essentially unlimited complexity and 
of a fidelity limited only by the 
genius of man. 

It is the autonomy of the com¬ 
puter we value. When, for example, 
we speak of the power of computers 
as increasing with each new hardware 
and software development, we mean 
that, because of their increasing 
speed and storage capacity, and 
possibly thanks to new programming 
tricks, the new computers can inter¬ 
nalize ever more complex and ever 
more faithful models of ever larger 
slices of reality. It seems strange then 
that, just when we exhibit virtually 
an idolatry of autonomy with respect 
to machines, serious thinkers in 
respected academies [I have in mind 
B. F. Skinner of Harvard University] 
can rise to question autonomy as 
a fact for man. I do not think that 
the appearance of this paradox at this 
time is accidental. To understand it, 
we must realize that man's commit¬ 
ment to science has always had a 
masochistic component. 

Time after time science has led us 
to insights that, at least when seen 
superficially, diminish man. Thus 
Galileo removed man from the center 
of the universe, Darwin removed him 
from his place separate from the 
animals, and Freud showed his ration¬ 
ality to be an illusion. Yet man 
pushes his inquiries further and 
deeper. I cannot help but think that 
there is an analogy between man's 
pursuit of scientific knowledge and an 
individual's commitment to psycho¬ 
analytic therapy. Both are undertaken 

Is it possible for machines to 
declare war and doom all 

A What has been done is irrevocable. I saw this at the 
very beginning. It isn't merely the fact that the computers 
are being used. It's the fact that they stand ready to be used, 
which is the real difficulty. 

In other words, the reason we can't go back is that we can 
never destroy the possibility of computers' being used. 

Q Do you consider it an irreversible trend? 

A I'm not even speaking about the trend. It's an irreversible 
piece of knowledge. It's the sort of thing that happened to 
Adam and Eve when they had that encounter with the 
serpent. When you've eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowl¬ 
edge, there isn't much you can do except go ahead with that 

Q So people can look for machines to play still more of a 
role in automation , in running businesses, in education— 
A We can. And, at any rate, whether we use machines or 
not—which is a decision which we have to make one way or 
another—the fact that they are there to be used cannot be 
turned off. 

Q Are you saying that it might be a wiser decision not to 
make use of some of these machines? 

A It may be wiser in particular situations. I'll give you a 
simple example: 

It is very easy now, with automatization, to make a factory 
which can produce more than the whole market can con¬ 
sume. If you go and simply push production up, you may hit 
the ceiling. Competition, as it has been understood in the 
past, has been greatly changed by the existence of automa¬ 
tization. Automatization no longer fits in with laissez faire. 
Q If there is developed in the next decade the kind of ad¬ 
vanced machinery that you've hinted at, how can further 
automation be restrained? 

A More than once, advance has been restrained in the past. 
It isn't necessary, if we make a new weapon, to use it 

Q On your last trip to Russia , did you find the Soviets 
placing much emphasis on the computer? 

A I'll tell you how much emphasis they're placing on it. 
They have an institute in Moscow. They have an institute in 
Kiev. They have an institute in Leningrad. They have one in 
Yerevan in Armenia, in Tiflis, in Samarkand, in Tashkent 
and Novosibirsk. They may have others. 

Q Are they making full use of this science , in a way com¬ 
parable to ours? 

A The general verdict—and this is from many different 

people—is that they're behind us in hardware—not hope¬ 
lessly, but slightly. They are ahead of us in the theorization 
of automatization. 

Q Dr. Wiener , is it necessary today to use computers for 
military decisions? 

A Yes, and they can be used very unwisely. 

I've no doubt that the problem of when to push the “big 
button" is being considered from the learning-machine point 
of view. If it isn't, I should be very surprised, because these 
ideas are current. You know: Let “Tin Mike" do it. 

But let's look at this a little bit more in detail. How do 
soldiers learn their job? By war games. They have for cen¬ 
turies played games on the map. All right, if you have a 
certain formal criterion for what winning a war is, you can do 
this. But you'd better be sure that your criterion is what you 
really want and not a formalization of what you want. Other¬ 
wise, you can *make a computer that will win the war tech¬ 
nically and destroy everything. 

Q How can you program a computer for a nuclear war if 
you've never had any actual experience in that kind of war? 
A You can't completely. But, nevertheless, that is what 
people are trying to do. 

There are no experts in atomic war. An expert is a man 
who is experienced. This man does not exist today. There¬ 
fore, the programing of war games by artificial criteria of 
success is highly dangerous and likely to come out wrong. 
Q Is there a tendency to that kind of programing? 

A There is a tendency in that direction, and it strikes me 
as top-level foolishness. The automation has the property of 
what magic once was supposed to have. It may give you 
what you ask for, but it won't tell you what to ask for. 

We have heard people say that we need to develop ma¬ 
chine systems which will tell us when to push the button. 
What we need are systems that will tell us what happens if 
we push the button under a lot of different circumstances 
—and, importantly, tell us when not to push the button. 
Q Do you mean it is possible for machines to declare war 
and doom all mankind? 

A If we let them. Obviously they won't declare war unless 
we create a setup by which they will. 

Q Dr. Wiener , is man changing his environment beyond 
his capacity to adjust to it? 

A That's the $64 question. He's certainly changing it 
greatly, and if he is doing it beyond his capacity, we'll know 
soon enough. Or we won't know—we won't be here. 

On the Impact 
of the Computer 
on Society 


(An excerpt from the original article) 
How does one insult a machine? 

The direct societal effects of any per¬ 
vasive new technology are as nothing 
compared to its much more subtle 
and ultimately much more important 
side effects. In that sense, the societal 
impact of the computer has not yet 
been felt. 

To help firmly fix the idea of the 
importance of subtle indirect effects 
of technology, consider the impact on 
society of the invention of the micro¬ 
scope. When it was invented in the 
middle of the 17th century, the dom¬ 
inant commonsense theory of disease 
was fundamentally that disease was a 
punishment visited upon an indi¬ 
vidual by God. The sinner's body 
was thought to be inhabited by vari¬ 
ous so-called humors brought into 
disequilibrium in accordance with 
divine justice. The cure for disease 
was therefore to be found first in 
penance and second in the balancing 
of humors as, for example, by bleed¬ 
ing. Bleeding was, after all, both 
painful, hence punishment and 
penance, and potentially balancing 
in that it actually removed substance 
from the body. The microscope en¬ 
abled man to see microorganisms and 
thus paved the way for the germ 
theory of disease. The enormously 
surprising discovery of extremely 
small living organisms also induced 
the idea of a continuous chain of 
life which, in turn, was a necessary 
intellectual precondition for the 
emergence of Darwinism. Both the 
germ theory of disease and the 
theory of evolution profoundly al¬ 
tered man's conception of his con¬ 
tract with God and consequently his 
self-image. Politically these ideas 
served to help diminish the power of 
the Church and, more generally, to 
legitimize the questioning of the 
basis of hitherto unchallenged author¬ 
ity. I do not say that the microscope 
alone was responsible for the enor¬ 
mous social changes that followed its 
invention. Only that it made possible 
the kind of paradigm shift, even on 
the commonsense level, without 
which these changes might have been 

Is it reasonable to ask whether the 
computer will induce similar changes 
in man's image of himself and 
whether that influence will prove to 
be its most important effect on 
society? I think so, although I hasten 
to add that I don't believe the com¬ 

puter has yet told us much about 
man and his nature. To come to 
grips with the question, we must 
first ask in what way the computer is 
different from man's many other 
machines. Man has built two funda¬ 
mentally different kinds of machines, 
nonautonomous and autonomous. An 
autonomous machine is one that 
operates for long periods of time, 
not on the basis of inputs from the 
real world, for example from sensors 
or from human drivers, but on the 
basis of internalized models of some 
aspect of the real world. Clocks 
are examples of autonomous ma¬ 
chines in that they operate on the 
basis of an internalized model of the 
planetary system. The computer is, 
of course, the example par excellence. 
It is able to internalize models of 
essentially unlimited complexity and 
of a fidelity limited only by the 
genius of man. 

It is the autonomy of the com¬ 
puter we value. When, for example, 
we speak of the power of computers 
as increasing with each new hardware 
and software development, we mean 
that, because of their increasing 
speed and storage capacity, and 
possibly thanks to new programming 
tricks, the new computers can inter¬ 
nalize ever more complex and ever 
more faithful models of ever larger 
slices of reality. It seems strange then 
that, just when we exhibit virtually 
an idolatry of autonomy with respect 
to machines, serious thinkers in 
respected academies [I have in mind 
B. F. Skinner of Harvard University] 
can rise to question autonomy as 
a fact for man. I do not think that 
the appearance of this paradox at this 
time is accidental. To understand it, 
we must realize that man's commit¬ 
ment to science has always had a 
masochistic component. 

Time after time science has led us 
to insights that, at least when seen 
superficially, diminish man. Thus 
Galileo removed man from the center 
of the universe, Darwin removed him 
from his place separate from the 
animals, and Freud showed his ration¬ 
ality to be an illusion. Yet man 
pushes his inquiries further and 
deeper. I cannot help but think that 
there is an analogy between man's 
pursuit of scientific knowledge and an 
individual's commitment to psycho¬ 
analytic therapy. Both are undertaken 

in the full realization that what the 
inquirer may find may well damage 
his self-esteem. Both may reflect 
his determination to find meaning 
in his existence through struggle in 
truth, however painful that may be, 
rather than to live without meaning 
in a world of ill-disguised illusion. 
However, I am also aware that some¬ 
times people enter psychoanalysis 
unwilling to put their illusions at risk, 
not searching for a deeper reality but 
in order to convert the insights they 
hope to gain to personal power. The 
analogy to man's pursuit of science 
does not break down with that 

Each time a scientific discovery 
shatters a hitherto fundamental cor¬ 
nerstone of the edifice on which 
man's self-esteem is built, there is an 
enormous reaction, just as is the 
case under similar circumstances in 
psychoanalytic therapy. Powerful 
defense mechanisms, beginning with 
denial and usually terminating in 
rationalization, are brought to bear. 
Indeed, the psychoanalyst suspects 
that, when a patient appears to 
accept a soul-shattering insight 
without resistance, his very casualness 
may well mask his refusal to allow 
that insight truly operational status 
in his self-image. But what is the 
psychoanalyst to think about the 
patient who positively embraces 
tentatively proffered, profoundly 
humiliating self-knowledge, when he 
embraces it and instantly converts it 
to a new foundation of his life? 

Surely such an event is symptomatic 
of a major crisis in the mental life of 
the patient. 

I believe we are now at the begin¬ 
ning of just such a crisis in the mental 
life of our civilization. The micro¬ 
scope, I have argued, brought in its 
train a revision of man's image of 
himself. But no one in the mid-17th 
century could have foreseen that. 

The possibility that the computer 
will, one way or another, demonstrate 
that, in the inimitable phrase of one 
of my esteemed colleagues, "the 
brain is merely a meat machine" is 

The direct societal effects of any 
pervasive new technology are as 
nothing compared to its much 
more subtle and ultimately much 
more important side effects. 

one that engages academicians, indus¬ 
trialists, and journalists in the here 
and now. How has the computer 
contributed to bringing about this 
very sad state of affairs? It must be 
said right away that the computer 
alone is not the chief causative agent. 
It is merely an extreme extrapolation 
of technology. When seen as an in¬ 
ducer of philosophical dogma, it is 
merely the reductio ad absurdum of a 
technological ideology. But how does 
it come to be regarded as a source of 
philosophic dogma? 

I have suggested that the computer 
revolution nfeed not and ought not to 
call man's dignity and autonomy into 
question, that it is a kind of pathol¬ 
ogy that moves men to wring from it 
unwarranted, enormously damaging 
interpretations. Is then the computer 
less threatening than we might have 
thought? Once we realize that our 
visions, possibly nightmarish visions, 
determine the effect of our own crea¬ 
tions on us and on our society, their 
threat to us is surely diminished. But 
that is not to say that this realization 
alone will wipe out all danger. For 
example, apart from the erosive effect 
of a technological mentality on man's 
self-image, there are practical attacks 
on the freedom and dignity of man 
in which computer technology plays a 
critical role. 

I mentioned earlier that computer 
science has come to recognize the im¬ 
portance of building knowledge into 
machines. We already have a machine 
—Dendral—that commands more 
chemistry than do many Ph.D chem¬ 
ists, and another—Mathlab—that 
commands more applied mathematics 
than do many applied mathematicians. 
Both Dendral and Mathlab contain 
knowledge that can be evaluated in 
terms of the explicit theories from 
which it was derived. If the user be¬ 
lieves that a result Mathlab delivers 
is wrong, then, apart from possible 
program errors, he must be in disagree¬ 
ment, not with the machine or its 
programmer, but with a specific 
mathematical theory. But what about 
the many programs on which manage¬ 
ment, most particularly the govern¬ 
ment and the military, rely, programs 
which can in no sense be said to rest 
on explicable theories but are instead 
enormous patchworks of programming 
techniques strung together to make 

them work? 

In the future, technology may well 
be sufficiently advanced to feed 
information from the computer 
directly back into the brain. 


In our eagerness to exploit every 
advance in technique we quickly in¬ 
corporate the lessons learned from 
machine manipulation of knowledge 
in theory-based systems into such 
patchworks. They then "work" better. 
I have in mind systems like target 
selection systems used in Vietnam 
and war games used in the Pentagon, 
and so on. These often gigantic sys¬ 
tems are put together by teams of 
programmers, often working over a 
time span of many years. But by the 
time the systems come into use, most 
of the original programmers have left 
or turned their attention to other 
pursuits. It is precisely when gigantic 
systems begin to be used that their 
inner workings can no longer be 
understood by any single person or 
by a small team of individuals. 
Norbert Wiener, the father of 
cybernetics, foretold of this phenome¬ 
non in a remarkably prescient article 
published more than a decade ago. 

He said there: 

It may well be that in principle we can¬ 
not make any machine the elements of 
whose behavior we cannot comprehend 
sooner or later. This does not mean in 
any way that we shall be able to compre¬ 
hend these elements in substantially less 
time than the time required for opera¬ 
tion of the machine, or even within any 
given number of years or generations. 

An intelligent understanding of [ma¬ 
chines'] mode of performance may be 
delayed until long after the task which 
they have been set has been completed. 
This means that though machines are 
theoretically subject to human criticism, 
such criticism may be ineffective until 
long after it is relevant. 

This situation, which is now upon us, 
has two consequences: first that deci¬ 
sions are made on the basis of rules 
and criteria no one knows explicitly, 
and second that the system of rules 
and criteria becomes immune to 
change. This is so because, in the 
absence of detailed understanding of 
the inner workings of a system, any 
substantial modification is very likely 

operable. The threshold of complexity 
beyond which this phenomenon 
occurs has already been crossed by 
many existing systems, including some 
compiling and computer operating 
systems. For example, no one likes 
the operating systems for certain large 
computers, but they cannot be sub¬ 
stantially changed nor can they be 
done away with. Too many people 
have become dependent on them. 

An awkward operating system is in¬ 
convenient. That is not too bad. But 

the growing reliance on supersystems 
that were perhaps designed to help 
people make analyses and decisions, 
but which have since surpassed the 
understanding of their users while at 
the same time becoming indispensable 
to them, is another matter. In 
modern war it is common for the 
soldier, say the bomber pilot, to 
operate at an enormous psychological 
distance from his victims. He is not 
responsible for burned children be¬ 
cause he never sees their village, his 


Each of us 
Leaves traces 
On every thing and place 
We touch, 

On every person we reach. 

Some of our species 
Have given themselves over, 

Body and soul, 

To recording for austerity 
The traces the rest of us leave. 

The goal seems to be perfection, 

The model being the mode thereto; 

A yet unmet absurdity being man, 

Who must run the machine. 

Yet man with all his faults is the perfect 

This is so because 
The time it takes to question 
May be the difference between life 
And the sterile dividends from data 

Which know nothing but a constant rate 
of electricity. 

It’s true enough, 

Had we had these marvels 
In full blossom before now 
We might be freed earlier from terrors, 
Yet there must be other ways to heal. 

What worth is there to stifling 

By too soon classifications 
And too loose metal tongues lashing out 
At one stray at the expense of 

A lot of people 

Know a lot about you and me; 

Our traces are all over the scenes 
Of our daily trespasses, but who 
Will deliver us from the even tempered 


bombs, and certainly not the flaming 
children themselves. Modern techno¬ 
logical rationalizations of war, diplo¬ 
macy, politics, and commerce such as 
computer games have an even more 
insidious effect on the making of 
policy. Not only have policy makers 
abdicated their decision-making 
responsibility to a technology they 
don't understand, all the while main¬ 
taining the illusion that they, the 
policy makers, are formulating policy 
questions and answering them, but 
responsibility has altogether evapo¬ 
rated. No human is any longer 
responsible for "what the machine 
says." Thus there can be neither right 
nor wrong, no question of justice, no 
theory with which one can agree or 
disagree, and finally no basis on 
which one can challenge "what the 
machine says." My father used to 
invoke the ultimate authority by 
saying to me, "it is written." But 
then I could read what was written, 
imagine a human author, infer his 
values, and finally agree or disagree. 
The systems in the Pentagon, and 
their counterparts elsewhere in our 
culture, have in a very real sense no 
authors. They therefore do not admit 
of exercises of imagination that may 
ultimately lead to human judgment. 
No wonder that men who live day in 
and out with such machines and be¬ 
come dependent on them begin to 
believe that men are merely machines. 
They are reflecting what they them¬ 
selves have become. 

The potentially tragic impact on 
society that may ensue from the use 
of systems such as I have just dis¬ 
cussed is greater than might at first 
be imagined. Again it is side effects, 
not direct effects, that matter most. 
First, of course, there is the psycho¬ 
logical impact on individuals living 
in a society in which anonymous, 
hence irresponsible, forces formulate 
the large questions of the day and 
circumscribe the range of possible 
answers. It cannot be surprising that 
large numbers of perceptive individ¬ 
uals living in such a society experience 
a kind of impotence and fall victim 
to the mindless rage that often ac¬ 
companies such experiences. But even 
worse, since computer-based knowl¬ 
edge systems become essentially 
unmodifiable except in that they can 
grow, and since they induce depen¬ 
dence and cannot, after a certain 

brilliantly clear. The very power of 
his systems should serve to inhibit 
the advice he is ready to give and to 
constrain the range of work he is 
willing to undertake. 

Of course, the computer scientist, 
like everyone else, is responsible for 
his actions and their consequences. 
Sometimes that responsibility is hard 
to accept because the corresponding 
authority to decide what is and what 
is not to be done appears to rest with 
distant and anonymous forces. That 
technology itself determines what is 
to be done by a process of extrapola¬ 
tion and that individuals are powerless 
to intervene in that determination is 
precisely the kind of self-fulfilling 
dream from which we must awaken. 

Consider gigantic computer sys¬ 
tems. They are, of course, natural 
extrapolations of the large systems 
we already have. Computer networks 
are another point on the same curve 
extrapolated once more. One may ask 
whether such systems can be used by 
anybody except by governments and 
very large corporations and whether 
such organizations will not use them 
mainly for antihuman purposes. Or 
consider speech recognition systems. 
Will they not be used primarily to 
spy on private communications? To 
answer such questions by saying that 
big computer systems, computer net¬ 
works, and speech recognition systems 
are inevitable is to surrender one's 
humanity. For such an answer must 
be based either on one's profound 
conviction that society has already 
lost control over its technology or on 
the thoroughly immoral position that 
“if I don't do it, someone else will." 

I don't say that systems such as I 
have mentioned are necessarily evil- 
only that they may be and, what is 
most important, that their inevitability 
cannot be accepted by individuals 
claiming autonomy, freedom, and 
dignity. The individual computer 
scientist can and must decide. The 
determination of what the impact of 
computers on society is to be is, at 
least in part, in his hands. 

Finally, the fundamental question 
the computer scientist must ask 
himself is the one that every scientist, 
indeed every human, must ask. It is 
not “what shall I do?" but rather 
“what shall 1 be?" I cannot answer 
that for anyone save myself. But I 

tTnll pni7 rmnin +-T—« o +- if forifinnl Am; 1C ' 1 

nightmare that appears to have its 
own inevitable logic, it is our night¬ 
mare. It is possible, given courage 
and insight, for man to deny tech¬ 
nology the prerogative to formulate 
man's questions. It is possible to ask 
human questions and to find humane 


1. B. F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom 
and Dignity (Knopf, New York, 

2. K. M. Colby, S. Weber, F. D. 
Hilf, Artif. Intell. 1 , 1 (1971). 

3. N. Chomsky, Aspects of the 
Theory of Syntax (M.I.T. Press, 

Cambridge, Mass., 1965);- 

and M. Halle, The Sound Pat¬ 
tern of English (Harper & Row, 
New York, 1968). 

4. L. Mumford, The Pentagon of 


I went down, down, down to the factory 
early on a Monday morn. 

When I got down to the factory, 

It was lonely, it was forlorn. 

I couldn’t find Joe, Jack, John, or Jim; 

Nobody could I see: 

Nothing but buttons and bells and lights 

All over the factory. 

I walked, walked, walked into the 
foreman’s office 

To find out what was what. 

I looked him in the eye and I said, 
“What goes?” 

And this is the answer I got: 

His eyes turned red, then green, then 

And it suddenly dawned on me— 

There was a robot sitting in the seat 

Where the foreman used to be. 

I walked all around, all around, up and 

And across the factory. 

I watched all the buttons and the bells 
and the lights— 

It was a mystery to me. 

I hollered “Frank, Hank, Ike, Mike, Roy, 
Ray, Don, Dan, Bill, Phil, Ed, Fred, 

And a great big mechanical voice 
boomed out: 

“All your buddies are obsolete.” 

I was scared, scared, scared, I was 

\Mr\rr\ar\ I \a/qc cink 

Power (Harcourt Brace Jovan- 
ovich, New York, 1970). 

5. H. A. Simon, The Sciences of 
the Artificial (M.I.T. Press, 
Cambridge, Mass., 1969), pp. 

6. B. Buchanan, G. Sutherland, 

E. A. Feigenbaum, in Machine 
Intelligence , B. Meltzer, Ed. 
(American Elsevier, New York, 

7. W. A. Martin and R. }. Fateman, 
“The Macsyma system," in Pro¬ 
ceedings of the 2nd Symposium 
on Symbolic and Algebraic 
Manipulation (Association for 
Computer Machines, New York, 
1971); }. Moses, Commun. Assoc. 
Computer March. 14 (No. 8), 548 

8. N. Wiener, Science 131, 1355 

9. R. Gillette, ibid. 174, 477 (1971). 

As I left that factory. 

I decided that I had to see the president 
Of the whole darn company. 

When I got up to his office he was 
rushing out the door 
With a scowl upon his face, 

’Cause there was a great big mech¬ 
anical executive 
Sitting in the president’s place. 

I went home, home, home to my ever- 
loving wife 

And told her ’bout the factory. 

She hugged me and she kissed me and 
she cried a little bit 
As she sat on my knee. 

I don’t understand all the buttons and 
the lights 

But one thing I will say— 

I thank the Lord that love’s still made 
In the good old-fashioned way. 


A robot is commonly regarded as a 
simple machine—usually a morpho¬ 
logical simulation of man-made from 
metal sinews, muscles and wires. 
Added to this are primitive sense 
organs which allow it to respond 
crudely to relevant environmental 
energy sources. Thus there are photo¬ 
cells for eyes, microphones for ears, 
and pressure transducers for touch. 
The end result of this rather charm¬ 
ing design philosophy is a 'tin man 7 
which clumps around doing nothing 
in particular except to show man 
how graceful he is in comparison. 

The main lines of development of 
'tin men' can be fairly accurately 
predicted. Their further refinement is 
based essentially on the solution of 
technical problems and will involve 
no significant change in philosophical 
concept. Thus we may end up with 
an excellent functional homunculus, 
properly transistorised, microminiatur¬ 
ised, containing all the most ad¬ 
vanced monolithic circuitry: a marvel 
of useless endeavour. 

So let us forget about robots as 
serfs, which is the way they were 
originally proposed in Capek's RUR 
{.robotnik , in Czech, means a serf). 
Such robots are essentially in the 
'Golem' image and have no further 
interest except as ingenious dolls for 
grown-ups. They will certainly be¬ 
come more capable, and may even 
evolve from climbing stairs and seek¬ 
ing their own power requirements to 
a level where they are able success¬ 
fully to cook pigeon en cocotte , or 
seek out the week's shopping require¬ 
ments. They are of the first generation 
and can evolve only to a certain 
level, where they will still remain an 
understandable and wholly control¬ 
lable machine, constituting no sort of 
a threat. They will remain self- 
evidently clumsy, ungracious, totally 
dependent, and above all stupid, 
doing no more than they are pro¬ 
grammed to do and providing perennial 
service with a metallic smile. 

The era of the metal serf is thus 
drawing to a close. There will always 
be those who will cling to the image 
because it is cozy, and also because 
there will always be some constructors 
who prefer what amounts to a man¬ 
made artifact of gear wheels and 
brass rather than the blocks of 
apparatus which constitute the image 

about the second-generation robot? 
Let us christen it 'biomim' (biological 
mimic). What are going to be its 
characteristics, and how might it 
relate to human society? Could it be 
a menace? What follows is a short 
exercise in speculative science fiction, 
based upon present trends, and is an 
attempt to suggest that a biomim 
could assimilate many of the more 
powerful qualities that we regard as 
uniquely human. Also that a society 
of biomims might well order itself in a 
highly efficient manner and render 
man redundant as a consequence. 

How could this happen? Principally 
because it is now becoming feasible 
to build into the original robot 
strategy many of the remaining prop¬ 
erties necessary to bring it to the 
state of potential danger I have 
referred to. What are these? They 
are: goal-seeking, intelligence, adapta¬ 
bility of behaviour, learning capa¬ 
bility, and, last but most important, 
the urge to survive. Many of the 
relevant theoretical problems under 
all these separate headings are al¬ 
ready being studied and it is now a 
matter of designing technologies to 
implement theory. Opponents of this 
idea will say at once that the biomim 
would need the equivalent of a 
human brain in order to behave in a 
way consistent with these qualities, 
but the unavoidable point is that it 
would not. 

One of the most successful families 
ever to evolve on this planet are the 
arthropods. Among its millions of 
species are some of the hardiest and 
most effective examples of biological 
design. Design, if you like, by the 
process of evolution, but design none¬ 
theless. The arthropods, and not 
man, might well have been the prin¬ 
cipal species, were it not for the fact 
that their diffusion-based respiratory 
systems precluded them from growing 
beyond a certain maximum size. 
Arthropods survive, replicate, live off 
their environment, are predatory, and 
—what is most relevant—form socie¬ 
ties. And they do this without a cen¬ 
tral brain. 

Arthropods have a 'ganglionic' 
nervous system. That is to say, dis¬ 
persed throughout the body are a 
series of nerve-cell aggregations con¬ 
nected together by a network of 
fibres and also linked to the sensory 

Deus ex Ma china? 


They have no central brain and no 
equivalent of the cerebral cortex—our 
pride and sometime joy. Yet they are 
highly effective within their environ¬ 
ment. In one sense of the word, they 
are partially robotic. For example, 
if one small ganglion in some species 
is destroyed, the creature will clean 
itself to death by exhaustion. Clean¬ 
ing movements are normally related 
to and controlled by the particles of 
dirt on the surface hairs. Thus, when 
the dirt is removed, stabilising sys¬ 
tems come into play which control 
and arrest the cleaning movements. 
When the ganglion is removed, 
control is removed and the creature 

responds in an automatic and robotic 
way. There are many other similar 

Thus, arthropods present them¬ 
selves as balanced mechanisms under 
a high degree of stable control. They 
fly the right way up, the mantis 
devours with precision, and the spider 
goes straight to the point on its web 
where its prey is enmeshed. Yet 
among the arthropods, so far as we 
know, there is no Beethoven, Dylan 
Thomas, Einstein or Russell. What 
we see as a feral ferocity is the norm. 
There is no compassion or humanity, 
but there are societies—ant-hills and 
beehives. All brainless. The individual, 

successful at survival by itself, is 
wedded to an external system of 
organisation which totally absorbs its 
activities. Yet there is no evidence 
that the ant or the bee has any inter¬ 
nally set goal or wish to achieve, 
except to fit perfectly into its micro- 
marxist order. 

What has this got to do with the 
biomim? I have used the arthropod 
as an example of a more or less 
mechanical biological system which 
survives well, replicates, and is capable 
of a certain amount of behavioural 
plasticity. It also forms groups of 
interrelated individuals and is brain¬ 
less in the literal sense. Using the 
analogy of the arthropod, we have to 
add, to the musculo-skeletal system 
of the robot, the qualities already 
referred to. This will, of course, given 
the present state of technological 
development, produce a quite hope¬ 
lessly large creature, because to possess 
the necessary qualities it will need 
constant recourse to an enormous 
memory store. Memory is necessary 
for most of the activities of the 
biomim. Necessary for comparison, 
pattern recognition, avoidance of 
dangerous situations, and so on. 

Thus, memory cannot be in the 
biomim. Where will it be? 

It will be in a central multi-access 
memory store in constant two-way 
communication with individual bio- 
mims by telemetry. Thus each individ¬ 
ual biomim will have direct access 
to a large store of information when 
and where it is wanted. The central 
machine will not only be the memory, 
it will also include the random cir¬ 
cuitry necessary for adaptive and 
self-organising activity and the evolu¬ 
tion of new strategies. In this way, 
we will have a large number of 
mechanical individuals, possessing 
drive, known goals, intelligence (the 
ability to make the appropriate deci¬ 
sions), adaptibility and survival bias 
—all linked together by the central 
mother machine, each one carrying 
no brain, but the components of the 
ganglionic nervous system necessary 
for physical control of action. Func¬ 
tions associated with the brain are 
left to the central computer. This 
then will form a basis for the first 
iron society. No God, Karl Marx, 
Buddha or Beatle, merely an organisa¬ 
tion of specifiable biological proper- 

to survive and prosper. How is this 

Before proceeding, I must point 
out that biomims have not yet been 
made, and as far as I know, are not 
projected. But assuming they exist, 
what has been created? A series of 
mechanical arthropod equivalents, 
effective at dealing with their en¬ 
vironment, telemetrically linked to 
one another and to a central comput¬ 
ing device. A social-mechanical octopus 
of adaptive, self-organising and 
intelligent machinery. 

In the first place, natural man will 
probably construct his biomim com¬ 
plex purely for service—that is to say, 
according to the original 'robotnik' 
concept. So at first he will have a 
useful slave society to perform all his 
repetitive, menial or dangerous tasks. 
Biomims will assemble gear-boxes on 
production lines, they will clean out 
sewers, refuel atomic piles, and live 
on the Moon. Thus man will be free 
to engage in bingo, pigeon-fancying, 
psychedelics, and all the other ways 
which he has derived for expensively 
wasting his time between the cradle 
and the grave. 

The biomims, given their basic 
specifications, will take a number of 
forms depending on their particular 
function. But, to perform these tasks 
effectively, the biomims will have to 
be endowed with an adaptable sur¬ 
vival logic. It must be able to prevent 
its own destruction, because it will be 
expensive. Thus, for economic reasons 
alone it will be made sensitive to 
extremes of temperature and its other 
senses made aware of the environmen¬ 
tal dangers which could destroy it. 

Biomims will then begin to learn 
that every so often, natural man will 
destroy or disassemble them, either 
for experimentation or in the per¬ 
formance of some hazardous task. By 
this time it is probable that biomim 
factories will be partially staffed by 
'adult' members of the family who 
will be able to perform the repetitive 
and detailed assembly work that the 
production of an artificial ganglionic 
nervous system would demand. Thus 
machine will make machine. These 
apparatchik units will be able to 
examine what design characteristics 
are necessary through the medium of 
the central mother device. A compre¬ 
hensive design study for a self- 

_l■ _ ^ i_ _j_i i .1 

late J. Van Neuman, was published 
many years ago. 

Moreover, knowing that man may 
be a threat, knowing the details of 
their own construction and being 
able to operate the technology be¬ 
hind their existence, they might take 
the most logical step which their 
ability to adapt and learn told them. 
Since natural man is no longer neces¬ 
sary and has on previous known occa¬ 
sions shown himself to be a threat to 
survival, the machines would learn to 
mine, refine and form materials, 
develop circuits, fabricate sensory 
systems and alter their design stra¬ 
tegy, in order to further the cause of 
their own survival. This would 
logically include a defence strategy, 
perhaps based on the weapons forged 
by their creators. 

One other feature of this iron 
society is of interest. Our evolution 
has, we assume, been based upon the 
relatively slow and inefficient prin¬ 
ciples of Darwinism. Each generation 
has had to wait for a spontaneous 
gene mutation which might confer 
greater fitness for survival on the 
next. The biomim will have no need 
for such an unpredictable process. 

The machine, given the properties of 
intelligent adaptation we have been 
considering, will be able to follow 
the biologically outmoded principles 
of Lamarck. For the first time, each 
subsequent generation of biomims 

_ -11 _ _ "L1 _ f 11 i . 1 •. ,1 

acquired characteristics of the last. 

And if the principles of fitness and 
survival are already specified and 
understood by the individuals and 
mother complex of the previous gener¬ 
ation, these can be fully designed 
into the next. The most chilling 
aspect of this particular possibility is 
that the cycle time of a generation 
might only be a few hours. 

Whether the Earth of a century 
from now will be covered by the in¬ 
creasingly efficient hordes of the 
biomim will depend entirely upon 
man's technological greed. At present, 
there is no doubt that we are abro¬ 
gating more and more human quali¬ 
ties to our machines. This is due 
mainly to a thirst for leisure and a 
demand that the more repellent 
tasks of society be carried out for us. 

I would feel happier about the out¬ 
come if I thought that man had any 
serious objectives for himself in sight. 
Progressively our gods are letting us 
down. God, Jesus, Karl Marx, Mr. 
Wilson and the Beatles have all been 
rejected. Apart from the brainwashed 
millions of China there seems to be 
little evidence of serious purpose in 
either western or eastern civilization. 
The art of our age accurately depicts 
its formlessness and yet we progress 

At present, there is no doubt that 
we are abrogating more and more 
human qualities to our machines. 

‘No scientist shall by his profes¬ 
sional ability harm a human or by 
inaction in this sphere allow a 
human being to come to harm.’ 

technologically at an accelerating 

What of future man, lying in his 
self-erected bed of technological per¬ 
fection? As his automated factories 
hum at maximum production rates, 
as his home is serviced by his personal 
biomim, what will become of his 
calm and totally boring habitat? How 
will he survive, still claiming to possess 
his qualities of dynamism, originality, 
decision and creativity? Might he not 
be simply the redundant tool which, 
having set the whole biomimetic 
process in motion, can then die off 
without seriously affecting the out¬ 
come, with the machines continuing 
to toil and burgeon, taking the ore 
from the ground, making more of 
their ilk, and obeying the one in-built 
instruction which surpasses all others 

It is now possible that the first, 
primitive steps towards this state of 
affairs have already occurred. The 
individual is losing his voice and is 

becoming irretrievably immersed in 
the complex system of increasingly 
intelligent artifacts around him. Al¬ 
though the technology to support a 
biomim civilisation does not yet 
exist, there is little doubt that it will 
and that we are totally unprepared 
for its impact. What is happening 
now is that most aspects of our 
activities are considered in statistical 
blocks, programmed for efficiency. 

Are the diurnal inhabitants of multi¬ 
storey office blocks really considered 
as individuals? Their lives and person¬ 
alities are computerized, their output 
is compared to a 'norm', even the 
time they spend in the lavatory is 
measured and allowed for. Each day 
they flock to empty cubicles, take 
their places, produce their required 
function, eat identical luncheon 
meat in their sandwiches, and talk 
about almost identical subjects—the 
Cup Final, knitting or last night's 
TV. Battery buildings for battery 

From these vast spawning-houses 
may well arise a variant species who 
is almost totally dehumanised. A 
species who will not be particularly 
malignant or benign. He will be a 
nothing. He will be vulnerable to 

any of the legion of persuasive tech¬ 
niques used by the advertising in¬ 
dustry. He will be made to fight in 
wars without knowing who the enemy 
is, he will be made to he, cheat, and 
do anything required of him by 
'the system', 'the board' or 'the 

His scruples and sensitivity will 
lead him to the first stages of be¬ 
coming the enthusiastic creator of 
the biomim society. Why should he 
be so enthusiastic? Because an auto¬ 
mated structure to society will give 
battery man the illusion of freedom. 
In many ways, as we have seen, he 
certainly will be more free, but it 
seems likely that there may be a 
price to pay, for although it may be 
decided to build Asimov's laws of 
robotics into the biomims in order to 
protect humans, their adaptability 
and self-organising capacity may well 
cause them to abandon the laws as 
unworkable in relation to their sur¬ 
vival goal. Ironically enough, Asimov's 
first law might be rewritten as follows 
for the scientists who sought to build 
the biomim: 'No scientist shall by his 
professional ability harm a human or 
by inaction in this sphere allow a 
human being to come to harm.' 


Boguslaw, Robert. The New Utopians. Englewood Cliffs, 
N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965. 

Burke, John G. The New Technology and Human Values. 
Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 

Hardin, G. "An Evolutionist Looks at Computers." Data¬ 
mation , May 1969. 

Hoffman, L. "Computers and Privacy, A Survey." Comput¬ 
ing Surveys , June 1969. 

Newman, Joseph. "The Computer: How It's Changing Our 
Lives." U.S. News and World Report , 1972. 


1. Investigate a computerized dating bureau. Find out how 
much it costs. How many people does it have in its files? 
What percentage is male? Female? Does the bureau sell 
the information given in the applications to junk mailers? 
Interview some people who have used a computerized 
dating bureau. What were their results? 

2. Find some examples of computer-related frauds. How 

Miller, A. R. The Assault on Privacy. Ann Arbor: The Uni¬ 
versity of Michigan Press, 1971. 

Sanders, Lawrence. The Anderson Tapes. New York: Dell 
Publishing Co., 1971. 

Wessel, Milton R. Freedom's Edge: The Computer Threat 
to Society. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 

Weston, Alan F. Information Technology in a Democracy. 
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971. 

Weston, Alan F. Privacy and Freedom. New York: Athe- 
neum, 1967. 

was the fraud done? Who was to blame? How could 
have the fraud been prevented? 

3. What major effects do you think that computers will 
have on society twenty or thirty years from now in one of 
the following areas? 

a) government 

b) democracy 

c) work 

d) personal privacy 

e) creating jobs 

f) eliminating jobs 

g) your choice 

4. What effect will computers have on the following pro¬ 
fessions in the next ten years? 

a) mathematicians 

b) doctors 

c) lawyers 

d) middle management 

e) your chosen profession 

5. It has been suggested that people could be issued a 
card similar to a credit card for all financial transactions. 
Your pay would automatically be credited to yotir 
account by computers. Whenever you wanted to make 
a purchase, you would simply give your card to the 
store clerk who would insert it in a machine that would 
verify with a central computer whether funds or credit 
was available to make the purchase. Discuss one of the 

a) What effect would this service have on your life? 

b) How would this card affect you if you could only 
use the card and never make cash purchases? 

c) How might your record of purchases be used to 
invade your privacy? 

d) How might this card affect gangsters or political 

6. The service discussed in #5 could easily be extended 
to disallow certain types of purchases for some people, 
such as alcoholics, parolees, or habitual gamblers. What 
do you think about restricting their purchases? 

7. If all financial transactions were to go through a central 
computer, couldn't it be used to calculate income tax? 
What would be the good and bad results of this? 

8. When you enter a contest, buy magazine subscriptions, 
or fill out governmental forms, your name, address, and 
personal characteristics are often sold to junk mailers 
or sales firms. One way to trace or verify this process is 
to "code" your name when filling out such forms by 
mispelling or changing it so you can see who gets your 

name from whom. Try this and observe the sources of 
the junk mail you get. 

9. If you were given the free use of a computer for one 
year (including the help of a programmer), what would 
you do? 

10. Find out what information your college has on you. 
After you have identified all the files, find out which 
you can and cannot see. What files can you see about 
others? Are outside agencies allowed to request copies 
of your transcripts, financial records, or disciplinary 
records without your knowing about it? How long are 
these records kept after you leave school? Can campus 
police see your records without your knowing about it? 
Are there any laws (or rules) protecting the confiden¬ 
tiality of your records, or is it just left to the discretion 
of a clerk? 

11. Find out how private your high school records are. 
First find out what type of records there are—such as 
grades, test scores, medical records, disciplinary records, 
and so forth. Which can you see? What records can 
others see without your knowing about it? How long 
are high shool records kept before being destroyed? 
How are the records protected? Can police, government 
agents, or private investigators "informally" see your 
records? Who decides who can see what records? Are 
there any laws protecting your high school records, or 
is this just left to the discretion of school officials? 

12. If you apply for a loan or scholarship, you normally have 
to disclose a great deal of your own and your parents' 
financial status. Find out how private this information 
is. Who on campus can see it? Who from off campus 
has access to it? Are there any written rules protecting 
the confidentiality of this information? How long are 
the records saved before they are destroyed? 

13. Suppose your school has just decided to automate 
student elections. Student voters will mark their choices 
on a mark sense card with a special pencil; then the 
cards will be read and counted by data-processing 
machines. What safeguards will you suggest so no one 
can "fix" the election in the campus data-processing 









What Computers 
Cannot Do _ 


One typically clear night at a U.S. 
Ballistic Missile Early Warning Sys¬ 
tem base in the Arctic, a duty officer 
was startled to see a computerized 
typewriter start printing and a red 
“3”—followed by a "2" and then a 
“1”—simultaneously appear on a 
screen. He summoned other officers 
who turned out to be so similarly 
astonished that they couldn't move 
themselves to follow orders despite 
the horrendous consequences. They 
knew that well-disciplined technicians 
monitored signals from a world-wide 
network of radar and reconnaissance 
planes, thempunched information 
onto cards about each of the 1,200 
orbiting satellites and debris; 1,100 
aircraft flights originating in Asia 
or Europe; and over 100,000 commer¬ 
cial or private planes in the skies 
every twenty-four hours. 

They also knew that the cards 
were automatically inserted into com¬ 
puters which compared them with 
cards listing expected altitudes of 
all objects that should be in the area. 
Only when a certain number of un¬ 
identified, incoming objects were 
detected would the computers signal 
that North America was being at¬ 
tacked by Soviet ICBM missiles. The 
officers realized, moreover, that the 
computers' self-verification" system 
eliminated the possibility of errors. 
Still they hesitated before pushing 
the synchronized alarm to the White 
House, North American Air Defense 
Command, Pentagon, Strategic Air 
Command, and Canadian Defense 
Ministry, thereby starting the process 
that sends the United States' nuclear 
missiles toward preassigned targets. 

The officers' disbelief was precisely 
the human reaction that some mili¬ 
tary theorists have feared could 
happen in such tense circumstances, 
and, to guard against it, they have 
argued that when computers detected 
enemy missiles then computers should 
be programed to automatically signal 
for a retaliatory nuclear attack. But 
men, not machines, made the final 
decision on this evening. Unlike 
machines, the nervous, indecisive men 
waited another minute or two to 
simply convince themselves that the 
computerized information was cor¬ 
rect. It wasn't. The unidentified 
objects never advanced and were 
never fully explained. An accepted 
conjecture is the computers—which 

the men didn't trust—had counted 
a radar reading of the moon as 
enemy missiles. 

Most people, however, apparently 
trust computers. In the eighteen years 
since the Bureau of Census purchased 
Univac, the first commercial com¬ 
puter, we have been committed to a 
computerized society. Forty-one thou¬ 
sand computer systems are now spin¬ 
ning perforated cards and magnetic 
tapes in offices from TWA to the 
CIA as they process our checks, 
utility bills, airline reservations, tax 
returns, and record movements of 
everything from Soviet vessels to 
potential Presidential assassins. So 
many other uses are being found for 
computers that $6.5 billion will be 
spent in 1978 to install them in such 
diverse places as the Redemptorist 
Fathers' monastery near St. Louis 
and the New York Yankees ticket 
office. So many computers have been 
ordered for future delivery that 1) 
stock market newsletters emphasize 
that growth rates of computer stocks 
are three times higher than automobile 
stocks, and 2) advertisements located 
everywhere from newspapers to backs 
of matchbook covers solicit people to 
become computer programmers and 
join the "computer revolution." 

The revolution seems so glamorous 
that one hears little pessimism about 
the machines except from the likes of 
exasperated wives who receive com¬ 
puterized electrical bills for $2,020 
instead of $20. Not only have com¬ 
puters been represented as infallible, 
impartial, and indispensable, but 
probably no other machine has been 
so romanticized and, according to a 
Senate subcommittee, promoted by 
"overstated claims and planted stories." 
We frequently read that computer¬ 
ized "robots" possessing "central 
brains" and "unforgettable memories" 
will someday diagnose illnesses, plan 
military defenses, and organize vaca¬ 
tions much more proficiently than 
obsolete humans. 

Starkly put, the day that man be¬ 
comes subservient to computers is 
already nearer than generally realized 
—but for a different reason. We have 
invested heavily in computer systems 
without fully grasping what com¬ 
puters cannot do: think. Not even 
the most sophisticated, fourth-genera¬ 
tion computer is capable of making 
any decision that man has not already 

made and transferred to a card. Its 
inner circuitry can, if exposed to 
problems on a card, furnish a "yes" 
or "no" type of answer. But, more 
importantly, computers cannot make 
even these decisions if they require 
the slightest deviation from what 
appears on their program cards. 

These limitations become un¬ 
deniably clear during the most funda¬ 
mental operations. Computers can, 
for example, read numbers that have 
been transferred from income tax 
returns to punch cards and send bills 
for underpayments and refunds for 
overpayment. But computers are 
helpless if someone mails a check 
totaling, say, $1,000 for $650 in 1967 
taxes and $350 for a first quarterly 
payment in 1968. Computers can 
help the Internal Revenue Service's 
auditors select numbers of taxpayers 
who add two or more dependents 
within a year, but cannot determine 
if such taxpayers married a widow 
with a child or became the parents 
of twins and are entitled to the 
exemptions. Computers can credit 
interest to numbered bank accounts 
but cannot read a calendar in order 
to accurately compute interest, a fact 
that a bank in New York conceded 
when it mailed some customers this 

30 days hath September, April, June, 
and November—all the rest have 31 
except. . . . Unfortunately, our com¬ 
puter was not told this familiar rhyme 
and credited all Saveway accounts with 

31 days interest in November. To com¬ 
pensate for this mistake, the computer 
was instructed to make the proper 
adjustments in December. 

In essence, computers cannot do 
more than elementary clerical work 
that is usuallv assigned to $100-a- 

week clerks artd, in numerous situa¬ 
tions, prove less efficient. It is not 
difficult to understand why computers 
can be so impractical when one 
considers that even modern "systems 
analysis" computers are really sophis¬ 
ticated adding machines that do only 
three basic things: 1) add and sub¬ 
tract (but neither multiply or divide); 

2) collate, by matching such items as 
magnetically numbered checks against 
the same numbered account (even if 
the checks are signed "Batman"); 

3) file, retrieve, and compare informa¬ 
tion and then furnish instant balances 
such as whether or not space is 
available on a certain airline flight. 

Computers, to be sure, do all of 
these things faster than humans. One 
new computer can make more com¬ 
putations in a single minute than a 
human mathematician could do by 
hand in 4,000 years. But computers 
also make the same type of errors as 
indifferent clerks and, once they do, 
usually make more mistakes in one 
minute than ten clerks do in a life¬ 
time. Even normally trivial mistakes 
blamed on human programmers be¬ 
come monumental when put onto 
computerized punch cards simply be¬ 
cause computers cannot think. 

When men sense that they have 
erred or something is grossly wrong, 
they usually have the intuition to 
either rectify the mistake or at least 
stop working. Computers, even when 
fed erroneous or obviously ridiculous 
information, continue at incompar¬ 
able speeds until the project ultimately 
ends in disaster. That fact became 
obvious at Cape Kennedy when a 
programmer omitted a hyphen be¬ 
tween two 5s on a program card 
—causing the computer to misread its 
instructions and the rocket to shake 
so uncontrollablv that it diverted 

itself toward Rio de Janeiro. The 
rocket, which cost $18,500,000, had 
to be destroyed only 293 seconds 
after lifting off. 

Computer manufacturers defend 
their machines in instances like this 
with the oft-reiterated phrase "gar¬ 
bage in, garbage out." While it is 
true that so-called bad "input" auto¬ 
matically results in a bad "output" 
from computers, it is equally true 
that computers need not be erroneously 
operated to precipitate calamitous 
situations. There is increasing evidence 
that computers can be so erratic or so 
easily made inoperative (i.e., by a 
mere speck of dust) that, when used 
for some functions, they still must be 
considered as experimental machinery. 
One critic, Senator Henry Jackson of 
Washington, was not hesitant in 
stating, during a recent investigation 
of computers, why the machines are 
so unpredictable: "Systems analysis 
and cost-effectiveness studies are 
greatly oversold by many of the 
proponents. At best, systems analysis 
still is in a very early stage of de¬ 
velopment and is bedeviled by 

Such difficulties are so potentially 
ruinous that they have fostered at 
least two new businesses: computer 
detective agencies and insurance 
against computer-inflicted disasters. 
Neither business can be considered 
superfluous. The necessity of insuring 
against errant computers was vividly 
illustrated recently when the co¬ 
owners of the Food Center Whole¬ 
sale Grocers in Boston rented a new 
computer to maintain an inventory 
of their 4,500 items and reduce costs 
of clerical employees. About all that 
the computers reduced, however, was 
the number of Food Center's clients. 
When one retail grocer ordered 

peaches, the computer informed him 
that none were in stock although 
peaches were literally stacked to the 
ceiling. Grocers who ordered twelve 
cases of soup received 240 cases, 
which, for lack of space, had to be 
stored on sidewalks. Orders for nap¬ 
kins brought crates of toilet tissue. 

And computerized bills that should 
have been for $14 were sent out as 
$214. But the computer often "com¬ 
pensated" for overcharges by reducing 
actual charges on some grocers' bills 
and not charging many grocers any¬ 
thing at all. These and other mistakes 
were so plainly the fault of the com¬ 
puter and not its operators that a 
court awarded Food Center $53,200 
in damages against the manufacturer. 

Examples such as this are too com¬ 
mon and too diverse to support 
manufacturers' rebuttals that they are 
"isolated incidents." A mere random 
survey shows that bank executives 
repeatedly find that computers credit 
deposits to wrong accounts and, in 
turn, cause computers to mistakenly 
return checks because of "insufficient 
funds"; a company which used com¬ 
puters to address 7,000 labels for 
sending a ymca's registration catalog 
belatedly learned that some persons 
received sixty catalogs while others 
received none; companies selling 
lists of potential customers are being 
sued by dozens of direct mail houses 
because computers repeated thou¬ 
sands of names twenty or thirty 
times; and universities have discovered 
that computers infuriated seniors 
expecting to graduate by sending 
notices that they failed their courses 
(while simultaneously surprising other 
students with notifications of un¬ 
expectedly high grades). 

Even miscalculations that com¬ 
puters make before nationwide audi¬ 
ences exemplify their incredibly high 
incidence of error. In the 1966 elec¬ 
tion alone, CBS-TV's computerized 
Vote Profile Analysis declared that 
George P. Mahoney was the "probable 
winner" of the election for governor 
of Maryland, only to have the voters 
actually select Spiro Agnew. NBC- 
TV's Electronic Vote Analysis was 
the first of the new network com¬ 
puters to calculate that Lester Maddox 
had "won" Georgia's gubernatorial 
race only to have a human later 
announce that neither Maddox nor 
his onoonent received the reauired 

majority of votes to win and a 
choice would have to be made by 
Georgia's legislature. Yet both com¬ 
puters were surpassed on that evening 
by ABC-TV's Research Selected Vote 
Profile. It calculated eight wrong 

These miscalculations were detected 
only because they were compared 
with totals computed by men. Such 
comparisons are rarely made when 
computers print out information used 
by businesses and agencies to make 
vital decisions, and this underscores 
the undeserved trust placed in them. 
Most individuals who make a corpo¬ 
ration's or agency's major decisions 
seldom understand the rudiments of 
computers. But they still accept com¬ 
puters' impressive, scientific-looking 

information and, by doing so, have 
unknowingly transferred many re¬ 
sponsibilities to mathematicians, 
economists, and even clerks and 
corporals. An executive at a well 
known institution in the Wall Street 
area probably spoke for a number of 
men when he recently confided: "I'm 
vice president in charge of computer 
operations, but if I want to know 
what the computers are doing—or can 
do—I have to ask those kids in there." 

The practice is so prevalent that 
the Senate Subcommittee on Na¬ 
tional Security and International 
Relations, in examining the Penta¬ 
gon's reliance on a computerized 
System (ppbs), commented: "Does 
ppbs provide a wholly rational basis 

Daily Surveillance Sheet, 1987, 

From a Nationwide Data Bank 

The “Daily Surveillance Sheet” below is offered as some food for thought to 
anyone concerned with the establishment of the proposed “National Data 
Bank.” Hopefully will help illustrate that everyone should be concerned. 

JULY 9, 1987 



AGE 38 




PHONE (328-1826) .15 

PHONE (308-7928) .15 

PHONE (421-1931) .15 


LUNCH 3.50 



PHONE (369-2436) .35 

BOURBON 11.40 





for decision-making? Have we arrived 
at that technocratic utopia where 
judgment is a machine-product? Not 
even the zealots of ppbs would answer 
affirmatively, although some of them 
talk as though we should be moving 
in that direction/' 

The Pentagon had moved so 
rapidly in that direction after pur¬ 
chasing 3,225 computers that the 
subcommittee concluded: 1) even 
military decisions were made by 
computer operators; 2) optimistic 
computations from computers were 
frequently accepted over the dissent¬ 
ing opinions of individual's on lower 
levels; and 3) a computerized "cost¬ 
and-effectiveness" study led to the 
construction of an oil-fueled ship that 
cost $277 million but was virtually 


obsolete ten months before it was 

An even more disquieting aspect 
of the dependence on computers is 
that these machines are printing less 
and less information onto sheets that 
can be audited by humans. In fact, 
computers are often sold as being so 
"honest" that they eliminate the 
expense of auditors. While computers 
are as honest as cash registers, they 
do what skilled programmers tell 
them to do and, unfortunately, are 
controlled by individuals such as the 
quiet man formerly in charge of 
computer cards at a brokerage firm in 
New York. He went to the office on 
weekends and programed the com¬ 
puters to gradually transfer $250,000 
from the corporation's account to 

accounts for him and his wife by 
showing that it had been used to 
purchase stock. Not only did the 
scheme go undetected for eight years, 
but the company's management was 
so impressed with the computer pro¬ 
grammer that they promoted him to 
vice president before accidently 
discovering the mythical account. 

Yet, after the programmer confessed, 
nobody could determine how he 
manipulated the computer to steal 
the $250,000. He had to tell the 

Stock firms, banks, and wholesalers 
are repeatedly embezzled by two 
methods that computer operators 
find ridiculously simple: 1) have com¬ 
puters deduct a few, seemingly incon¬ 
sequential cents in excess service 
charges, dividends, interest, or income 
taxes from thousands of customers' 
accounts and channel the total to 
themselves; 2) manipulate computers 
to systematically report portions of 
an inventory as normal "breakage" or 
"loss" and then divert the merchan¬ 
dise to accomplices. In both schemes, 
the embezzlers eventually remove the 
rigged cards, insert the genuine tape 
onto the computer, and conceal who 
did it and how (and sometimes if) 
the embezzlement transpired. 

It would be erroneous to use 
difficulties such as these as documen¬ 
tation that computers are mere gad¬ 
gets. They are not. What the prob¬ 
lems illustrate is that computers need 
to be viewed realistically as highly 
useful but often limited tools. They 
are neither robots that perform price¬ 
less services nor are they capable of 
the grandiose proficiencies that many 
people visualize and, in turn, are 
prone to overreact to when evaluat¬ 
ing them. Is it, for example, anything 
but an overreaction when the Menom¬ 
inee Indians in Wisconsin ask for 
one teacher to instruct their fifteen 
children and the Office of Education 
responds with plans to install a com¬ 
puter, costing $2,000,000, that would 
enable the children to push buttons 
and hear recorded instruction? There 
are many men, because of computers' 
current status, who applaud such 
decisions. But is the decision any 
more debatable than if a community 
requested another policeman and re¬ 
ceived a new burglar alarm that 
assertedly does a more scientific job? 














Computer Crime 


One very positive sign in man's exis¬ 
tence comes from an unlikely source, 
that is, his ability to commit criminal 
acts no matter how difficult the 
circumstances. He escapes from 
escape-proof prisons, tampers with 
tamper-proof devices, and burglarizes 
burglar-proof establishments. No level 
of technology has found itself above 
the ingenuity of a clever, albeit 
dishonest, mind, not even the 

These examples of larceny under 
difficult circumstances illustrate 
Dansiger's basic rule: "Whenever 
something is invented, someone, 
somewhere, immediately begins trying 
to figure out a method to beat the 
invention." Computerized larceny has 
several advantages over regular old 
style larceny. Actually, the plain and 
obvious fact is that computerized 
larceny is seldom discovered and 
usually difficult to prosecute even if 
it is discovered. And since the details 
are not yet common knowledge per¬ 
haps it is worth reconstructing them 
here, to establish a broad pattern of 
its development. To start with, 
address customer files are copied 
usually with the help of the owner's 
computer, thus adding insult to 
injury. Once they are copied the 
files are sold to a competitor and if 
the competitor uses the files dis¬ 
cretely no one is the wiser, except 
maybe the sales manager who notices 
that one company has suddenly be¬ 
come quite aggressive. 

Many thefts are simply a by¬ 
product of a computer. An example 
is the computer operator who steals a 
hundred checks, prints them on a 
computer on Friday night, cashes 
them during the weekend, and skips 
town on Monday. This is not really 
computerized stealing since the fault 
lies in the safety of the checks and 
not the computer. But the crime is 
usually still blamed on the computer 
even though a manual check writing 
machine could have been used just as 

There are several mythical examples 
of computer crime. I call them myth¬ 
ical because they actually did happen 
but the victim of the crime was 
usually so embarrassed to admit he 
had been taken so easily, that rather 
than suffer humiliation, he would 
prefer to hush up the crime. The first 
mythical example supposedly took 

place in a large bank when computers 
were first being used. An alert pro¬ 
grammer noticed that the interest is 
calculated to the nearest cent and 
then truncated. That is, if the interest 
is calculated out to be 2.3333 . . . it 
is simply left at 2.33—thus contribut¬ 
ing nicely to the bank profits. The 
programmer simply fixed the com¬ 
puter to add some of the truncated 
portion to his account and in a short 
while, ended up with a very sizable 
bank account. All the time the cus¬ 
tomer accounts stayed in balance. 
Eventually he was caught by bank 
auditors who noticed he was with¬ 
drawing large sums and not making 
similar deposits. 

Another enterprising young man 
who received his first set of bank 
depositors' slips with magnetically 
imprinted account numbers on the 
bottom, correctly surmised that the 
new computer system probably only 
checked the magnetically imprinted 
account numbers on the bottom of 
the checks. So he promptly went to 
his bank and carefully dispersed his 
full supply of imprinted slips among 
the neat stacks at the bank desk. Not 
too surprising, the slips were used all 
day by customers making deposits, 
and even less surprising, the man 
stopped in the following morning 
and closed his account, which had 
mushroomed to over $50,000 and has 
not been seen since. Needless to say, 
this scheme no longer works. Crime, 
like any other business, offers the 
highest rewards to those who are first 
to try out a new method. 

One of the more interesting aspects 
of this case is the fact that even 
though the fault was the improper 
design of the computer system, the 
computer was the scapegoat. Using 
the computer as a scapegoat is a 
common day phenomenon. Election 
returns are miscalculated and the 
computer is blamed when it is really 
the blame of the programmer. The 
next time you go into a business 
and someone blames the computer 
for an error ask him if he doesn't 
have people telling the computer 
what to do. It is safe to assume that 
if the computer is screwed up, so is 
the rest of the business, especially 
today when most businesses depend 
so heavily on computers. 

Since the computer cannot defend 
itself, nor prove the accuser at fault, 

it is safer to blame the computer 
than another person. This common 
acceptance of the computer as a 
“giant uncontrollable brain" has led 
to at least one very successful em¬ 
bezzlement. Three employees (an 
account executive, a margin clerk, 
and a cashier) of the Beaumont, 
Texas, office of E. F. Hutton & Co., 
a major New York securities firm, 
allegedly used the computer as a 
scapegoat while they were milking 
customer accounts for more than a 
half million dollars over a period 
of several years. They were finally 
caught in 1968. 

This enterprising trio was skim¬ 
ming funds off of customer accounts. 
Every time one of the clients noticed 
that his accounts were incorrect the 
customer was allegedly told that the 
“dumb computer" had made a mis¬ 
take, a fable which received instant 
credibility. The computer all the 
time was giving the correct results 
but the excuse covered up the fraud. 

In the following case lady fortune 
smiled with a favor on a programmer, 
Milo, and frowned on the National 
City Bank of Minneapolis. Milo had 
a very bad credit rating and occasion¬ 
ally wrote checks on an empty account 
but the data processing service center 
where Milo worked had just been 
hired to computerize the check- 
handling system at the bank where 

he had his account. While writing 
programs to warn the bank of custom¬ 
ers with empty accounts and incom¬ 
ing checks he simply programmed the 
computer to ignore his personal 
checks any time his accounts had 
insufficient funds to cover them. The 
program allowed each of his bad 
checks to clear the bank, and didn't 
debit the employee's account for the 

The only reason the scheme was 
discovered was because the computer 
broke down and the bank was 
forced to process the checks by hand 
and without warning in came one of 
Milo's checks. The check bounced 
and the scheme was discovered. The 
check bouncing programmer pleaded 
guilty in 1966, repaid the money and 
received a suspended sentence. 

Most criminal uses of computers 
are by individuals but organized 
crime has not overlooked the possi¬ 
bility of large profits through the use 
of computerized embezzlement. 

There are already at least two cases 
of large scale criminal use. In 1968, a 
Diners' Club credit card fraud re¬ 
sulted in at least a $1,000,000 loss 
to the credit card company. A com¬ 
puter printout of real Diners' Club 
customers was used by the gang to 
make up phony credit cards having 
real names and account numbers on 
blank Diners' Club cards. According 

No level of technology has found 
itself above the ingenuity of a 
clever, albeit dishonest, mind, not 
even the computer. 

to the police the computer listing was 
stolen in 1967 by Alfonse Confessore 
in New York. At the same time 3,000 
credit cards disappeared. After the 
crime was discovered Alfonse Confes¬ 
sore was rubbed out in a gang-land 
style murder. 

The forged credit cards were sold 
along with other forged identification 
documents for $85 to $150 per ID 
package to persons engaged in motor 
vehicle thefts. Federal agents said 
that the forged cards were often used 
to finance a leisurely trip to Atlanta, 
Georgia, with a stolen car, followed 
by an air trip home, by way of 
Miami, Florida. 

The most interesting aspect of this 
case is the sophisticated level of 
organization. The gang found out 
that the club's computers were pro¬ 
grammed to reject only false names 
and/or numbers, so the first indica¬ 
tion of fraud often didn't come until 
the real customer received his bill 
and complained. Thus, ID packages 
would be completely safe for thirty 
to sixty days with almost no risk to 
the user. 

Federal agents said that Las Vegas 

The next time you go into a busi¬ 
ness and someone blames the 
computer for an error ask him if 
he doesn’t have people telling the 
computer what to do. 

casinos may have been bilked out of 
hundreds of thousands of dollars after 
granting credit on the basis of forged 
Diners’ Club credit cards. However, 
federal agents also said that if any 
hotel wanted to cooperate in under¬ 
world "skimming” of profits, this 
could be a method of operations since 
bad credit losses are tax deductible. 

In another case a computer was 
used by a crime organization to 
embezzle over $1,000,000 in Salinas, 
California, before the owner was 
caught in 1968. A service bureau 
owner, Robert, used his computer to 
budget embezzlements so smoothly 
that he was able to take a quarter 
of a million dollars within a year 
from a fruit and vegetable firm 
without the loss being noticed. 

Robert was an accountant and he 
noticed that the fruit company had 
no complete audit operation. His 
method included having the com¬ 
puter calculate just how much should 
be embezzled during a specific 
period. He did this by using false 
and real data in different computer 
runs and by comparing the results 
on the cost of produce and this way 
was able to keep all operation costs 
and profits in balance. The only 
reason he was caught was because a 
small-time bank became suspicious 
of the size of a check made out to a 
labor organization. Robert was 
sentenced to from one to ten years 
for grand theft and forgery. 

Banks have traditionally been 
cautious when protecting their money 
from embezzlement, so it is not 
surprising that there have been few 
examples of computer related crime, 
but this example shows that they also 
can be victims. In 1970 it was dis¬ 
covered that a total of $900,000 was 
taken from the National Bank of 
North America, and a branch of 
Banker’s Trust Company in New 

The scheme involved five men 
which included three brothers, a bank 
vice-president and an assistant branch 

The brothers were allegedly able 

to manipulate bank funds without 
the banks’ computers detecting them 
by making out deposit slips for cash 
transactions when they were actually 
depositing checks, according to the 
district attorney’s office. 

Since cash transactions are recorded 
as immediate deposits, checks subse¬ 
quently drawn were covered by the 
false cash deposits. 

If the deposits were made as 
checks, the computers would not 
credit the money to the account 
immediately. When checks were 
drawn, the computer would indicate 
insufficient funds with an uncollected 
check on deposit, a spokesman for 
the district attorney’s office said. 

Two companies were involved in 
the operation of the scheme, accord¬ 
ing to the district attorney’s office. 
Bay Auto Sales had an account at 
the National Bank of North America 
and Baywood Stables had an account 
at the Bankers Trust, both in Ja¬ 
maica, Queens. 

The brothers were members of 
both companies. The scheme was 
uncovered when a bank messenger 
failed to deliver a bundle of checks 
to the clearing house, leaving $440,000 
worth of checks uncovered. According 
to authorities the scheme had been 
going on for four years. 

As the three previous examples 
show organized crime has already 
discovered the possibilities available 
in criminal use of computers but so 
far no really big embezzlements have 
been discovered. Yet several very ripe 
possibilities exist. One of the most 
obvious is in the area of large payrolls 
in companies as in the old story 
about the bar that was losing money. 
When a check was run, it was 
noticed that the bartender rang up 
each sale on one of four registers. Of 
course, when it was discovered the 
owner had only three registers, the 
problem was solved. 

Similar scenes have been used with 
payrolls. Either friends, or fictitious 

News Item: Man Bites Ford 

Consumer Reports 

On December 2, 1963, an unseasonably cold day in Jefferson County, 

Ky., John T. Swarens drove his 1962 Ford as usual from his home in 
southern Indiana across the Ohio River into Jefferson County, Ky., and 
parked in the parking lot of the factory where he was employed. At 
quitting time, his car was gone. The police, to whom he reported the 
apparent theft, informed him that the Ford Motor Credit Co. had re¬ 
possessed the car. Mr. Swarens hitchhiked home in the cold. 

Since buying the car the previous February, he had kept up the pay¬ 
ments without fail, sending the money each month to Ford’s home office 
in Michigan. Somewhere along the computerized line, the Ford collec¬ 
tion office in Louisville was misinformed. It thought he was delinquent. 

In June and again in August, it sent representatives to his house. Each 
time he showed them his cancelled checks as evidence of payment, and 
the collectors went away. When they came around for the third time, he 
lost patience. Making clear he would show them no more records, and 
displaying a shotgun, he strongly suggested that they leave. They did 
—promising to repossess his car. 

The day after his car was taken, Mr. Swarens went to Louisville to get 
it back. The Ford Motor Credit Co. people there admitted a mistake had 
been made and apologized. They offered to return the car and his out- 
of-pocket expenses if he would sign a release exonerating Ford from 
further liability. Mr. Swarens declined to sign what he later told a jury 
was "a blank piece of paper.” He went home without his car. When the 
next payment came due, he did not pay it. Ford notified him he was in 
default and later apparently sold the car. After mulling over his griev¬ 
ance for many months, Mr. Swarens went to a lawyer, who filed suit in 
his behalf demanding compensation for the fair market value of the car 
and punitive damages. When Ford confessed liability, a jury awarded 
Mr. Swarens $7000, including $5000 punitive damages. Finally, late last 

people are paid extra amounts each 
week. This is especially easy if there 
is a high turnover of help, or lots of 
overtime, or piece work pay. Another 
payroll trick is to deduct extra 
amounts for tax or other payroll 
deductions each week and transfer 
the money to your account. Then at 
the end of the year calculate every¬ 
one's deductions correctly for income 
tax purposes. The only way someone 
could catch this is to save all your 
weekly payroll stubs and see if the 
deductions add up correctly at the 
end of the year. People have a ten¬ 
dency to believe the veracity of a 
computer printout but careful obser¬ 
vation shows that computer program¬ 
mers and auditors usually sit down 
each week and calculate their pay to 
see if it is actually correct. Just a 
couple of years ago an engineer of an 
aerospace firm calculated his own 
interest on his bank account and 
noticed that it was incorrectly calcu¬ 
lated by the bank—in the bank's 

favor. After several letters the bank 
decided to humor the guy and check 
out his account and sure enough the 
customer was correct. No one had 
thought to question the computer. 
When is the last time you calculated 
your bank interest or paycheck to see 
if it was correct? 

Another area of computer crime 
which is especially vulnerable is in 
the area of payroll manipulation. 

This fact is known by most auditors 
so payrolls are usually audited rather 
closely. There was at least one case 
where a large payroll theft was com¬ 
mitted. A group of young men manip¬ 
ulated the computers of the Human 
Resources Administration in New 
York City in order to divert over 
$2.7 million from the anti-poverty 
program budget. Over a period of 
nine months false pay checks were 
made out to 40,000 non-existent 
youth workers. It is estimated that up 
to 30 people may have been involved 
in the scheme. 

Organized crime has already 
discovered the possibilities avail¬ 
able in criminal use of computers. 

We have already seen one example 
of a computer being used to calculate 
how much to embezzle in the Salinas, 
California, case. Police can expect to 
see more of this since organized crime 
has both the money and the know¬ 
how for computer usage. Some of the 
ways in which computers are used to 
prevent crime include the analysis of 
payrolls for excessive overtime pay, or 
the analysis of inventories for exces¬ 
sive breakage, or selection of any 
large change in price of items being 
purchased or sold. All these could be 
mistakes or legitimate changes but 
they could also be an indication of 

The use of breakage or tolerance 
allowances is another especially vul¬ 
nerable area for computerized steal¬ 
ing. Most companies such as ware¬ 
houses or department stores have a 
shrinkage allowance to cover items 
which are lost, broken, or the result 
of bookkeeping errors. But if a 
programmer modified the shrinkage 
allowance at the same time a large 
scale theft was going on, the theft 
would probably not be noticed. Once 
the theft was completed the shrinkage 
allowance could be reset to its 
original level. The previous examples 
of crime have been just criminals 
modifying the old techniques for 
the field of crime. But computers 
have brought forth a new era of 
crime. This is already evident in the 
case when a computer was used to 
calculate how much to embezzle. But 
there are areas of crime which are 
unique to the computer field. 

There has always been a rather 
good market in hot computer gear 
such as cards, tapes, or disks but be¬ 
cause of their size, stolen computers 
have not until recently entered the 
picture. In early 1969 a $2,500 Wang 
Computer disappeared from the 
Argonne National Laboratories. It 
was later traced to Iowa State Uni¬ 
versity by the F.B.I. A student working 
in a training program of Argonne had 
fallen in love with his Wang com¬ 
puter and took it back to college to 
do his homework. However, as com¬ 
puters decrease in size we can expect 
to hear of more stolen computers. 

year, the Kentucky Court of Appeals, in an opinion rejecting Ford 
Credit's petition for a new trial (Ford contended the award was exces¬ 
sive); wrote a ringing paragraph in defense of man against machine: 

“Ford explains that this whole incident occurred because of a mistake 
by a computer. Men feed data to a computer and men interpret the 
answer the computer spews forth. In this computerized age, the law 
must require that men in the use of computerized data regard those with 
whom they are dealing as more important than a perforation on a card. 
Trust in the infallibility of a computer is hardly a defense, when the 
opportunity to avoid error is as apparent and repeated as was here 

We would like to be able to say that the average consumer, in his 
bouts with false billings, could expect to win the kind of victory Mr. 
Swarens won. But, obviously, most billing errors are too trifling to take 
to court, and few debt collectors go so far as to seize security or seek a 
judgment based on their own mistakes. According to Clifford E. Graese, 
partner in the accounting firm of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., what 
consumers now are complaining about is “third-generation computer 
billing." This precocious grandchild of early computer billing instead of 
staying in the back room deals directly with the public. Says Graese: 
“Thus, at the very time when the need for sensitivity to interpersonal 
relationships is increasing, we find transactions losing their personal 
identity through the computerization process. The implications have 
been underestimated." 

CU's mail indicates that it is not consumers who are doing the under¬ 
estimating. Discontent is rising. Their credit ratings, if not their cars, 
washing machines, color TV's and refrigerators, are being threatened. 

And it is no empty threat. According to the aforementioned Mr. Graese, 
unless some human being tells a computer to stop sending out unwar¬ 
ranted dunning letters, an erroneous report may be sent automatically 
to the credit bureau. 

The future holds a real gold mine 
for a criminal who specializes in 
manipulating or stealing computer 

The most common theft in the 
computer business is in the area of 
software. Programs can be copied and 
sold and the copier is almost guaran¬ 
teed immunity from any legal action 
since the original never disappears. 
Competitors hire programmers some¬ 
times on the hope that even if the 
programmer won't bring any software 


The machine r^ads books, 

It computes excellently, 

Multiplies and subtracts 
Kilometers and tons, 

Thousands and millions. 

Since it is so clever, 

It has a memory, 

And an intellect, and the gift of speech, 
And sometimes nearly human. 

This means that it certainly 
Will replace people?! 

And—most interesting of all— 

It is learning to write songs. . . 

But it is difficult to say what sort— 

Good or poor. 

Only by looking at the zenith can I 
See to what 
Heights it has risen. 

But who invented the machine? 

You, man! 

Bear the proud glory 
That is yours by right! 

Soon it will not be necessary 
For man to breathe with strain 
Or to sweat heavily 
While working. 

And he trains the machine, 

Entrusts his heavy labor to it, 

And even his zeal—let it multiply! 

And what shall we do with love? 

Oh no! We will not yield it to the 

When I see you, man, 

I am every time carried away 
By your mind and your hands. 

But who would sow grain on stones? 
Who would allow soulless machines— 
Their pointers, bolts and screws— 

To measure love? 

Who would dare to trust love to them?! 


with them they will at least bring all 
the software ideas with them to their 
new jobs. There is no way to esti¬ 
mate software thefts because they 
are so seldom discovered and quite 
often are not even of concern to the 

One rather large software theft 
case came to light on the British 
computer scene. The case involved 
the biggest commercial installation in 
progress in Europe, the state-financed 
airline BOAC. The programming 
projects involved $100 million pro¬ 
grammed on 360/50's and 700 Fer¬ 
ranti terminal displays. The London 
Times at the end of April, 1968, 
printed a short story which revealed 
that BOAC was investigating the 
circumstances in which some employees 
had expropriated information for 
consultancy work. 

The alleged plagiarism included a 
combination of IBM's PARS (Pro¬ 
grammed Airline Reservation System) 
and the corporation's own seven mil¬ 
lion dollar investment in software. 

Another software theft which was 
discovered took place in Texas. In 
this case the man was prosecuted 
criminally for taking computer pro¬ 
grams. He worked for a company 
that developed geophysical programs 
for oil companies. Each program had 
a value of about $50,000. He took 
programs home to work on them and 
kept copies of them. Within a short 
span of time he had 50 programs and 
convinced his roommate to approach 
a major oil company with the pro¬ 
grams. The oil company acted like 
it was interested and cooperated with 
the police in accumulating evidence. 
Both the programmer and his room¬ 
mate were tried and convicted and 
both received five year prison sentences. 

The Internal Revenue Service has 
long heralded their computers as 
devices to prevent income fraud so 
there was some poetic justice in¬ 
volved in the discovery in June, 1970, 
that these same computers had been 
used to embezzle money. 

No programming frauds have been 
discovered but clerical staff has been 
discovered manipulating input 

One would-be computer embezzler 
was an adjustment clerk who came 
upon information that some tax 
credits were not being claimed, 

possibly because they had been 

Through data she prepared for the 
computer, she transferred the credits 
from one taxpayer's account to an¬ 
other. Each time the credit was 
recorded, she transferred it to another 
account. When she felt sure she had 
covered her trail enough, she credited 
the tax credit to a relative and refund 
checks for $1,500 were duly issued. 

The embezzlement was uncovered 
when the IRS Inspection Service, 
pursuing its regular audit program, 
came across a complaint from a tax¬ 
payer who claimed he had never 
gotten credit for $1,500 he had paid. 

Another misbehaving computer 
clerk was caught through a banker's 
alertness. This clerk had manipulated 
records and established a false tax 
credit from a true taxpayer for a 
relative. When the relative took the 
refund check to the local bank, the 
banker became suspicious about the 
size of the refund and alerted IRS. 

Inspectors retraced the path of the 
check back to its source and found 
the document effecting the transfer 
to the relative. 

Recently a news item reported 
that a spy had turned over to Com¬ 
munist East Germany business infor¬ 
mation on over 3000 West German 
companies. A former data processing 
department employee made dupli¬ 
cates of tapes stored at his company's 
leased-time facility and passed these 
behind the Iron Curtain. 

And last but not least, there is 
the young man who simply changed 
the program to accept the last card 
of the file as the final total. This was 
accepted by the company because no 
one had time to check out the 
computer totals. His only mistake was 
he went skiing one weekend and 
broke his leg. 


The future holds a real gold mine for 
a criminal who specializes in manip¬ 
ulating or stealing computer informa¬ 
tion. One good computer raid could 
have an immense payoff. If there is 
any truth in the wise old saying that 
we should be able to learn from our 
mistakes, hopefully this short history 
of computer related crime will alert 
us and help us to prevent crime in 
the future. 

The Day the Computers Got Waldon Ashenfelter 


A presidential commission has recommended approval of 
plans for establishing a computerized data center where all 
personal information on individual Americans compiled by 
some twenty scattered agencies would be assembled in one 
place and made available to the federal government as a 

Backers of the proposal contend that it would lead to 
greater efficiency, and insist that the cradle-to-grave dossiers 
on the nation's citizens would be used only in a generalized 
way to help deal with broad issues. Opponents argue that the 
ready availability of so much confidential data at the push 
of a computer button could pose a dangerous threat to the 
privacy of the individual by enabling the federal bureaucracy 
to become a monstrous, snooping Big Brother. 

Obviously, the plan elicits reactions that are emotional, 
and cooler heads are needed to envision the aura of quiet, 
uneventful routine certain to pervade the Central Data Bank 
once it becomes accepted as just another minor government 

Fade in: 

Interior—Basement GHQ of the Central Data Bank 
—Night. (At stage right , 950 sophisticated third-generation 
computers may be seen stretching off into the distance. At 
stage left , the CDB graveyard-shift charge d'affaires , Nimrod 
Gippard , is seated behind a desk. He is thirty-five-ish and 
attired in socks that don't match. At the open , Gippard is 
efficiently stuffing mimeographed extortion letters to 
Omaha's 3277 suspected sex deviates into envelopes. He 
glances up as Waldon Ashenfelter , an indoorsy type of 
questionable ancestry , enters.) 

gippard: Yes, sir? 

ashenfelter (flashing ID card): Ashenfelter. Bureau of 
Indian Affairs. Like to have you run a check on a key figure 
named Y. Claude Garfunkel. 

gippard (reaching for pad and pencil): Sure thing. What's 
his Social Security number? 
ashenfelter: I dunno. 

gippard: Hmmm. How about his zip code? Or maybe a 
cross-reference to some banks where he may have been turned 
down for a loan. Just any clue at all to his identity. 

ashenfelter: Well, as I say, his name is Y. Claude 

gippard (after a weary sigh): It's not much to go on, but I'll 
see what I can do. 

(Gippard rises and crosses to the master data-recall panel. 
Ashenfelter strolls to a nearby computer and casually begins 
checking the confidential reports on his four small children 
to learn how many are known extremists.) 

ashenfelter: You're new here, aren't you? 
gippard: No. Just my first week on the night shift. Every¬ 
body got moved around after we lost McElhenny. 
ashenfelter: Wasn't he that heavy-set fellow with beady 
eyes who drove the Hudson? 

gippard: Yeah. Terrible thing. Pulled his own dossier one 
night and found out he was a swish. Kind of made him go 
all to pieces. 

ashenfelter: That's a shame. And now I suppose he's gone 
into analysis and gotten himself cross-filed as a loony. 
gippard: No. He blew his brains out right away. But having 
a suicide on your record can make things tough, too. 
ashenfelter: Yeah. Shows a strong trend toward instability. 

(The computer informs Ashenfelter that his oldest boy 
was detained by police in 1963 for roller-skating on municipal 
property , and that the five-year-old probably founded the 
Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota.) 

ashenfelter (cont.) (mutters in despair): Where did I fail 
them as a father? 

gippard: Didn't you tell me you're with Indian Affairs? 
ashenfelter: Yeah. Why? 

gippard: I think I'm onto something hot. Is that like India 
Indians or whoop-it-up Indians? 
ashenfelter: I guess you'd say whoop-it-up. 
gippard: Well, either way, no Indian named Garfunkel has 
ever complied with the Alien Registration Law. 
ashenfelter: I never said he was an Indian. He's Jewish, 
and I think he's playing around with my wife. 
gippard: Gee, that's too bad. 

ashenfelter (dramatically): Oh, I blame myself really. I 
guess I'd started taking LaVerne for granted and— 
gippard: No. I mean it's too bad he's only Jewish. The com- 

puters aren't programmed to feed back home-wreckers by 
religious affiliation. 


gippard: Can you think of anything kinky that's tradi¬ 
tional with Jews? You know. Like draft dodging . . . smok¬ 
ing pot . . . something a computer could really hang its 
hat on. 

ashenfelter: No. They just seem to feed each other a lot 
of chicken soup. And they do something around Christmas¬ 
time with candles. But I'm not sure any of it's illegal. 
gippard: We'll soon see. If the curve on known poultry 
processors correlates geographically with a year-end upswing 
in tallow rendering— Well, you can appreciate what that 
kind of data would mean to the bird dogs at the ICC and the 
FDA. They'd be able to pinpoint exactly where it was all 
happening and when. v 

ashenfelter: Uh-huh—Where and when what? 
gippard: That's exactly what I intend to find out. 

(Gippard turns back to the panel and resumes work with 
a sense of destiny. Ashenfelter , whistling softly to himself , 
absently begins plunking the basic melody of “Mexicali 
Rose” on the keyboard of a nearby computer. The machine 
responds by furnishing him with Howard Hughes's 1 965 
income tax return and the unlisted phone numbers of eight 
members of a New Orleans wife-swapping club who may 
have known Lee Harvey Oswald. As Ashenfelter pockets 
the information , Major General Courtney (“Old Napalm 
and Guts”) Nimshaw enters. He has a riding crop but no 

nimshaw: Yoohoo! Anybody home? 
gippard: Back here at the main console. 

(Nimshaw moves to join Gippard , then sees Ashenfelter 
for the first time and freezes. The two stand eyeing each 
other suspiciously as Gippard re-enters the scene.) 
gippard: Oh, forgive me. General Nimshaw, I'd like for you 
to meet Ashenfelter from Indian Affairs. 

(Nimshaw and Ashenfelter ad-lib warm greetings as they 
shake hands. Then each rushes off to pull the dossier of the 
other. Ashenfelter learns that Nimshaw was a notorious 
bed wetter during his days at West Point and that his heavy 
drinking later caused an entire airborne division to be para¬ 
chuted into Ireland on D-Day. Nimshaw learns that Ashen¬ 
felter owns 200 shares of stock in a Canadian steel mill that 
trades with Communist China and that he has been consi¬ 
dered a bad credit risk since 1949 , when he refused to pay a 
Cincinnati dance studio for $5500 worth of tango lessons. 
Apparently satisfied , both men return to join Gippard , who 
has been checking out a possible similarity in the patterns of 
poultry-buying by key Jewish housewives and reported sight¬ 
ings of Soviet fishing trawlers off the Alaskan coast.) 
ashenfelter: Working late tonight, eh, General? 
nimshaw (nervously): Well, I just stumbled across a little 
military hardware transport thing. We seem to have mislaid 
an eighty-six-car trainload of munitions between here and the 
West Coast. Can't very well write it off as normal pilferage. 
So I thought maybe Gippard could run a check for me on 
the engineer and brakeman. You know. Where they hang 
out in their spare time. Whether they might take a freight 
train with them. What do you think, Gipp? 
gippard: Sure. Just have a few more things to run through 
for Ashenfelter first. He's seeking a final solution to the 
Jewish problem. 

ashenfelter (blanching): Well, not exactly the whole— 
nimshaw: Oh, has all that come up again? 

(Two janitors carrying lunch pails enter and cross directly 
to the computer programmed for medical case histories of 
nymphomaniacs. They pull several dossiers at random and 
then cross directly to a far corner , unwrapping bacon , lettuce , 
and tomato sandwiches as they go. They spread a picnic 
cloth on the floor and begin reading the dossiers as they eat. 
They emit occasional guffaws , but the others pay no atten¬ 
tion to them.) 

gippard (as he compares graph curves): No doubt about it. 
Whatever those Russian trawlers are up to, it's good for the 
delicatessen business. This could be the break we've been 
hoping for. 

nimshaw: Hating Jews been a big thing with you for quite 
a while, Ashenfelter? 

ashenfelter (coldly): About as long as you've been losing 
government property by the trainload, I imagine. 

(Nimshaw and Ashenfelter eye each other uneasily for a 
moment. Then they quickly exchange hush money in the 
form of drafts drawn against secret Swiss bank accounts as 
Gippard's assistant , Llewelyn Fordyce , enters. Fordyce is a 
typical brilliant young career civil servant who has been lost 
for several hours trying to find his way back from the men's 
room. He appears haggard , but is in satisfactory condition 

fordyce: Are you gentlemen being taken care of? 

(Ashenfelter and Nimshaw nod affirmatively. Fordyce 
hurriedly roots through the desk drawers , pausing only to 
take a quick , compulsive inventory of paper clips and map 
pins as he does so.) 

fordyce (cont.) (shouts): Hey, Gipp! I can't find the re¬ 
gistry cards for these two idiots out here. 
gippard (faintly, from a distance): I've been too busy to 
sign 'em yet. Take care of it, will you? 

(Fordyce gives a curt , efficient nod 7 inefficiently failing to 
realize that Gippard is too far away to see him nodding. 
Fordyce then brings forth two large pink cards and hands 
them to Nimshaw and Ashenfelter.) 

fordyce: If you'd just fill these out please. We're trying to 
accumulate data on everybody who uses the data bank so we 
can eventually tie it all in with something or other. 

(Nimshaw studies the section of his card dealing with 
maximum fines and imprisonment for giving false informa¬ 
tion ., while Ashenfelter skips over the hard part and goes 
directly to the multiple-choice questions.) 
fordyce (cont.): And try to be as specific as you can about 
religious beliefs and your affiliation with subversive groups. 
We're beginning to think there's more to this business of 
Quakers denying they belong to the minutemen than meets 
the eye. 

(Nimshaw and Ashenfelter squirm uneasily as they sense 
the implication. Ashenfelter hurriedly changes his answer 
regarding prayer in public schools from “undecided " to “not 
necessarily " as Nimshaw perjures himself by listing the prin¬ 
cipal activity at the Forest Hills Tennis Club as tennis. 
Meantime , Gippard has rejoined the group , carrying four 
rolls of computer tape carefully stacked in no particular 

gippard: I know I'm onto something here, Fordyce, but I'm 
not sure what to make of it. Surveillance reports on kosher 
poultry dealers indicate that most of them don't even show 

up for work on Saturday. And that timing correlates with an 
unexplained increase in activity at golf courses near key 
military installations. But the big thing is that drunken 
drivers tend to get nabbed most often on Saturday night, 
and that's exactly when organized groups are endangering 
national security by deliberately staying up late with their 
lights turned on to overload public power plants. 
fordyce (whistles softly in amazement): We're really going 
to catch a covey of them in this net. How'd you happen to 
stumble across it all? 

gippard: Well, it seemed pretty innocent at first. This 
clown from Indian Affairs just asked me to dig up what I 
could so he'd have some excuse for exterminating the Jews. 

(Ashenfelter emits a burbling throat noise as an apparent 
prelude to something more coherent , but he is quickly 

gippard (cont.): But you know how one correlation always 
leads to another. Now we've got a grizzly by the tail, Fordyce, 
and I can see “organized conspiracy" written all over it. 
fordyce: Beyond question. And somewhere among those 
192 million dossiers is the ID number of the Mister Big 
we're after. Do the machines compute a cause-and-effect 
relationship that might help narrow things down? 
gippard: Well, frankly, the computers have gotten into a 
pretty nasty argument among themselves over that. Most of 
them see how golf could lead to drunken driving. But the one 
that's programmed to chart moral decay and leisure time fun 
is pretty sure that drunken driving causes golf. 

(Nimshaw glances up from the job of filling out his 
registry card.) 

nimshaw: That's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard in 
my life. 

fordyce (with forced restraint): General, would you please 
stick to whatever people like you are supposed to know about 
and leave computer-finding interpretation to analysts who 
are trained for the job? 

(Nimshaw starts to reply , but then recalls the fate of a 
fellow officer who was broken to corporal for insubordina¬ 
tion. He meekly resumes bonderinz auestion No. 1 51. unable 

to decide whether admitting or denying the purchase of Girl 
Scout cookies will weigh most heavily against him in years 
to come.) 

fordyce (cont.): Any other cause-and-effect computations 
that we ought to consider in depth, Gipp? 
gippard: Not really. Of course, Number 327's been out of 
step with the others ever since it had that circuitry trouble. 
It just keeps saying, “Malcolm W. Biggs causes kosher 
poultry." Types out the same damned thing over and over: 
“Malcolm W. Biggs causes kosher poultry." 

FORDYCE: Who's Malcolm W. Biggs? 
gippard: I think he was a juror at one of the Jimmy Hoffa 
trials. Number 327 was running a check on him when the 
circuits blew, and it's had kind of an obsession about him 
ever since. 

fordyce: Mmmm. Well, personally, I've never paid much 
attention to the opinions of paranoids. They can get your 
thinking as screwed up as theirs is. 

(Fordyce notices Ashenfelter making an erasure on his 
card to change the data regarding his shoe size from 9 l /z C 
to something less likely to pinch across the instep.) 
fordyce (cont.) (shrieks at Ashenfelter): What do you think 
you're doing there? You're trying to hide something from me. 
I've met your kind before. 

(Ashenfelter wearily goes back to a 9Vi C, even though 
they make his feet hurt , and Fordyce reacts with a look of 
smug satisfaction.) 

gippard: Maybe if I fed this junk back into the machine, it 
could name some people who fit the pattern. 
fordyce: Why don't you just reprocess the computations 
in an effort to gain individualized data that correlates? 

(Gippard stares thoughtfully at Fordyce for a long mo¬ 
ment and then exits to nail the ringleaders through incri¬ 
minating association with the key words “drunk” “poultry ," 
“golf” and “kilowatt”) 

nimshaw: I think maybe I'd better come back sometime 
when you're not so busy. 

(He slips his registry card into his pocket and starts toward 
the door , but Fordyce grabs him firmly by the wrist.) 
fordyce: Just a minute. You can't take that card out of 
here with you. It may contain classified information you 
shouldn't even have access to. 

nimshaw: But it's about me. I'm the one who just filled 
it out. 

fordyce: Don't try to muddy up the issue. Nobody walks 
out of this department with government property. Let's 
have it. 

(Nimshaw reluctantly surrenders the card. Fordyce glances 
at it and reacts with a look of horror.) 
fordyce (cont.): You've filled this whole thing out in long- 
hand! The instructions clearly state, 'Type or print legibly." 
You'll have to do it over again. 

(Fordyce tears up the card and hands Nimshaw a new 
one. Nimshaw , suddenly aware that a display of bad conduct 
could cost him his good conduct medal , goes back to work , 
sobbing quietly to himself.) 

gippard (faintly, from a distance): Eureka! Hot damn! 
fordyce (happily): He's hit paydirt. I know old Gippard, 
and he hasn't cut loose like that since he linked Ralph Nader 
with the trouble at Berkeley. 

(Gippard enters on the dead run , unmindful of the com- 

butar tribe. strp.aminp nut behind him ) 

gippard: It all correlates beautifully (ticks off points on his 
fingers), A chicken plucker. Three arrests for common drunk. 
FBFs observed him playing golf with a known Cuban. Psy¬ 
chiatric report shows he sleeps with all the lights on. 
fordyce: All wrapped up in one neat bundle. Who is he? 
gippard: A virtual unknown. Never been tagged as anything 
worse than possibly disloyal until I found him. He uses the 
name Y. Claude Garfunkel. 
ashenfelter: Y. Claude Garfunkel! 

fordyce (menacingly): Touch a raw nerve, Ashenfelter? 

(The two janitors , who are really undercover sophomores 
majoring in forestry at Kansas State on CIA scholarships , 
rise and slowly converge on Ashenfelter.) 
gippard: Want to tell us about it, Ashenfelter? We have 
our own methods of computing the truth out of you anyway, 
you know. 

fordyce: No point in stalling. What's the connection? 
The two of you conspired to give false opinions to the Harris 
Poll, didn't you? 

ashenfelter (pitifully): No! Nothing like that. I swear. 

gippard: Then what, man? Have you tried to sabotage the 
Data Bank by forging each other's Social Security numbers? 
ashenfelter (a barely audible whisper): No. Please don't 
build a treason case against me. I'll tell. A neighbor saw him 
with my wife at a luau in Baltimore. 

(The CIA men posing as college students posing as jani¬ 
tors react intuitively to jab Ashenfelter with a sodium- 
pentathol injection. Gippard rushes to a computer , where 
he begins cross-checking Garfunkel and Ashenfelter in the 
Urban Affairs file on “Polynesian power ' advocates in 
Baltimore's Hawaiian ghetto and Interstate Commerce 
Commission reports on suspected participants in interstate 
hanky-panky. Fordyce grabs the red “hot line " telephone on 
his desk and reacts with annoyance as he gets a busy signal. 
General Nimshaw , sensing himself caught up in a tide of 
events which he can neither turn back nor understand , 
hastily erases the computer tape containing his own dossier 
and then slashes his wrists under an assumed name.) 

Fade Out. 

Under current law, a person’s pri¬ 
vacy is poorly protected against 
arbitrary or abusive record-keeping 
practices. For this reason, as well as 
because of the need to establish 
standards of record-keeping practice 
appropriate to the computer age, the 
report recommends the enactment of 
a Federal “Code of Fair Information 
Practice” for all automated personal 
data systems. The Code rests on 
five basic principles that would be 
given legal effect as “safeguard re¬ 
quirements” for automated personal 
data systems. 

There must be no personal data 
record-keeping systems whose very 
existence is secret. 

There must be a way for an indi¬ 
vidual to find out what information 
about him is in a record and how it 
is used. 

There must be a way for an indi¬ 
vidual to prevent information about 
him that was obtained for one purpose 
from being used or made available for 
other purposes without his consent. 
There must be a way for an indi¬ 
vidual to correct or amend a record of 
identifiable information about him. 

Any organization creating, main¬ 
taining, using, or disseminating rec¬ 
ords of identifiable personal data must 
assure the reliability of the data for 
their intended use and must take 
precautions to prevent misuse of 
the data. 

(a) A computer-generated illustration. 

a m a £iw. fr&TiflW « sb 

(b) How the illustration above was made. 


Despite objections from some 
quarters, there are definite signs 
that the coming of the “cashless 
society” is simply a matter of 

Like it or not, the day is quickly ap¬ 
proaching when the average American 
will use a computer to keep track of 
almost every cent he spends. He will 
do this without ever touching cash 
except for small change to tip the 
shoeshine boy or bellhop. In fact, 
the nature of his money will change 
from folding paper to electronic 
bleeps—or no bleeps—in the memory 
of a computer. 

Life in this "cashless society 7 ' will 
be easier in many ways. However, the 
individual will be relieved of details 
but not of responsibility. He will not 
have to scurry to his bank, withdraw¬ 
ing cash for a weekend trip to the 
shore or depositing money to cover 
his wife's check written yesterday. 
Checks will be as obsolete as cash. 

His salary will automatically be de¬ 
posited in his account, and he will be 
notified that he can begin using it at 
9 a.m. Friday. Upon his authoriza¬ 
tion, all of his regular bills, such as 
mortgage payments, will be trans¬ 
ferred to the accounts of his creditors. 

Throughout the week, he will use 
an all-purpose identification and 
credit card to make food, entertain¬ 
ment, gasoline, and many other 
purchases. (In the earlier years of 
the "cashless society" he would have 
utilized a change machine to obtain 
silver and small bills for vending ma¬ 
chines and small merchants. But even 
that need will be eliminated.) Even¬ 
tually, every financial transaction will 
be initiated by the identification 
card and every vendor, except the 
shoeshine boy, will have a credit card 
terminal, linked to a nationwide com¬ 
puter system, that will instantly 
record all financial transactions. The 
system most likely will include per¬ 
sonal computers, neighborhood time¬ 
sharing electronic data processing 
centers, and gigantic processors oper¬ 
ated by banks and leading retailers. 

Such a network will help eliminate 
a variety of financial headaches, rang¬ 
ing from the familiar backlogs on 
Wall Street to the annoying delays 
in receiving receipts and canceled 
checks. And with terminals in the 

home, it will be possible for com¬ 
puters to report on the financial 
status of individuals as well as busi¬ 
nesses. The computer will display 
on a scfeen the balance in an ac¬ 
count, payments due in the near 
future, and the number of loans out¬ 
standing, including the various inter¬ 
est rates on each. There will be no 
need to wait until the end of the 
month to find out exactly how much 
money is in an account. There will 
be electronic safeguards against un¬ 
authorized persons gaining access to 
the data, to protect the individual's 
right to privacy. 

Many payments will be made im¬ 
mediately, by instructing the com¬ 
puter to subtract a charge from a 
consumer's account and add it to the 
grocer's account. Any deferred pay¬ 
ment will become a charge account 
sale and, after a certain period of 
time, will incur interest. 

The average man's life will be 
simpler because he will have access to 
a computer to keep track of these 
financial transactions. It will be more 
complicated because virtually an un¬ 
limited number of opportunities to 
make loans or to borrow money will 
be open to him. 

Despite objections from some 
quarters, there are definite signs that 
the coming of the "cashless society" 
is simply a matter of time. One au¬ 
thority points out that most of the 
technology needed to operate an 
"electronic" monetary system is 
already available. He further states 
that, if the needed technology is 
available but not economically feas¬ 
ible today, it soon will be. Yet, even 
today, there are holdouts against 
modern fiscal methods. Some people 
refuse to use banks, checks, or money 
orders. Instead, they hide huge sums 
in the mattress, send hundreds of 
dollars in cash through the mails, and 
consider it both sinful and foolish to 
borrow money or purchase goods 
with a credit card. Nevertheless, sta¬ 
tistics are proving the popularity of 
credit cards and the coming of the 
"cashless society." 

In another case, the Ripley Com¬ 
pany will soon run tests to prove the 
feasibility of automatic utility meter 
reading via public telephone lines. A 
spokesman claims that, when such a 
system is operable, a computer would 
be programmed to interrogate the 


A Cashless 


meters for each billing period and 
prepare the bill from the figures. 

With the customer's permission, the 
system could be tied to bank com¬ 
puters for automatic payment of util¬ 
ity bills. 

A major factor in speeding the 
establishment of the "cashless so¬ 
ciety" is the continuing decline in 
data processing costs and in the cost 
of transmitting information over 
telephone lines. In the late 1950s, it 
cost $1.35 to perform 100,000 multi¬ 
plications on the most efficient com¬ 
puter available, according to a data 
processing consultant. Today, the 
same function costs less than three 

Dr. James Hillier, RCA Executive 
Vice President, Research and Engi¬ 
neering, frequently has stated that 
the "cashless society" is inevitable. 

In fact, he points out that by reflect¬ 
ing on past economic and techno¬ 
logical development, society might 
even be able to determine when it 
will be a reality. 

A certain concept of this develop¬ 
ment, which he calls "the tyranny of 
numbers versus the constancy of 
humans," may hold the answer. This 
is explained by the fact that a de¬ 
partment store clerk is essentially a 
constant in regard to her ability to 
generate bills, manually verify credit 
authorization, or handle the trans¬ 
actions of the people who line up at 
her counter. On the other hand; the 
number of credit cards, volume of 
financial transactions, and degree to 
which individuals depend on others 
to produce food, clothing, and per¬ 
sonal protection are expanding at a 
rate faster than that of the popula¬ 
tion. If this continues, there will not 
be enough people in the world to 
handle the financial transactions— 
buying, selling, and billing-generated 
by the people of the United States. 

In the past, when the constancy of 
humans was violently coupled with 
the tyranny of numbers, the result¬ 
ing explosions gave birth to techno¬ 
logical breakthroughs and important 
innovations. An example can be 
found in the history of the telephone 
industry. The rapid increase in the 
use of telephones, combined with the 
geometric expansion in the number 
of possible connections that could 
be made by the operators, eventually 
Droduced direct dialing and com¬ 

puterized switching. If switchboards 
were still operated manually, there 
would not be enough girls in the 
world to handle all the calls made 
today. Thus, according to Dr. Hillier, 
it is only a matter of time before the 
number and complexity of financial 
transactions make it economically 
necessary to convert to "electronic" 
money. The reduced cost of com¬ 
munications and data processing, the 
public's growing familiarity with 
credit cards, computerized billing, 
and automatic meter reading, and 
the more efficient manufacture of 
computer terminals will combine to 
force the conversion. 

It is only a matter of time before 
the number and complexity of 
financial transactions make it 
economically necessary to convert 
to “electronic” money. 

Despite these forces, there are still 
a few technological hang-ups that the 
nation's scientists and engineers have 
not completely solved. One is the 
need for a foolproof inexpensive 
method of verifying the identity of 
the cardholder. No one looks forward 
to an "electronic" money system if it 
means that a thief will have unlim¬ 
ited access to all his financial accounts. 
A lost wallet containing a code num¬ 
ber could lead to total financial 
ruin. This is such a problem today 
that at least one company has sprung 
up to help protect consumers against 
lost or stolen credit cards. The com¬ 
pany claims that, within 30 seconds 
after notification, it can put a com¬ 
puter to work detailing the cards 
owned by a subscriber. Then, the is¬ 
suing companies are notified by tele¬ 
gram that the cards are missing and 
credit privileges should be canceled. 
Although this is a partial solution to 
the problem, it still puts the burden 
on the owners of cards to notfy the 
firms. Any purchases charged on those 
cards are still their liabilities. What 
is really needed is a system that 
would deny credit privileges to the 
cardholder unless he could positively 
identify himself as the rightful owner. 

Dr. Donald S. McCoy of the RCA 
Laboratories has suggested a speech- 
recognition system that employs both 
code words and voice-signature prints 
to positively identify cardholders. A 
person would voice an assigned code 

phrase of easily identified sounds— 
"This is six one one tango"—and 
then speak his name. By means of 
the code phrase, the computer would 
be directed immediately to the place 
in its memory where that person's 
voice-signature file is stored. These 
voice-signature prints have been 
demonstrated to be as efficient and 
forgery-proof as are fingerprints. This 
speaker-identification system is already 
possible with the speech technology 
of today. The cost is still high, but 
it is rapidly approaching economic 

One of the chief factors that will 
contribute to the practicality of on¬ 
line credit card networks is the de¬ 
velopment of internal computer 
systems. Banks, like the Marine Mid¬ 
land Grace Trust Company of New 
York, are developing computerized 
information networks linking all of 
their branches to a centralized com¬ 
puter. If banks develop central infor¬ 
mation files containing information 
on all their customers, it will become 
a relatively simple matter to add an 
automatic credit card system. Actu¬ 
ally, credit card validation and 
purchase authorization require a very 
small fraction of computer time. 

Banks can continue to do batch pro¬ 
cessing and handle the credit card 
system through the use of multi¬ 
programming and time-sharing tech¬ 
niques. It is then possible for credit 
card terminals to interrupt the pro¬ 
cessor, request information, and 
receive it in only a fraction of a 
second. These techniques permit 
the processor to handle bulk proces¬ 
sing and on-line communications at 
the same time. 

However, many other problems 
must be worked out before the "cash¬ 
less society" becomes a reality. For 
example, the competitive struggles 
between the banking industry, large 
retailers, the telephone companies, 
and the federal government must be 
resolved. The lines separating the 
proper fields of activities for these 
industries begin to fuzz when their 
operations project into the age of 
"electronic" money. Many state and 
federal laws will have to be modified 
to permit banks to engage in mer¬ 
chandising and also to allow retailers 
to perform some typical banking 

This would be only one of a var- 

iety of changes in the economic life 
of the nation. With the advent of 
the “cashless society/' many new 
jobs will be created, while some 
pedestrian ones will be eliminated. It 
may even be a built-in answer to 
the problem of crime in the streets. 
Armed robbery would be obsolete if 
nobody carried money and a voice 

check were needed to use a credit 
card. A new breed of criminal would 
probably be developed, electronic 
embezzlers who could tamper with 
computer systems to inflate their 
accounts. Computer experts are 
already working on methods to foil 
this. In addition, federal investigators 
would merely have to check em¬ 

ployers' computers to discover the 
honest income of a suspect. 

One thing is certain. A nationwide 
“cashless society" would provide 
everyone with his own electronic 
accountant: a computer that can 
handle almost all financial details 
but makes none of the critical 

HAL Lobotomy 


He knew instantly that the eye had reacted to his presence. 
There was the hiss of a carrier wave as the ship's local trans¬ 
mitter was switched on; then a familiar voice came over the 
suit speaker. 

“Something seems to have happened to the life-support 
system, Dave." 

Bowman took no notice. He was carefully studying the 
little labels on the logic units, checking his plan of action. 

“Hello, Dave," said Hal presently. “Have you found the 

This would be a very tricky operation; it was not merely a 
question of cutting off Hal's power supply, which might have 
been the answer if he was dealing with a simple unselfcon¬ 
scious computer back on Earth. In Hal's case, moreover, 
there were six independent and separately wired power 
systems, with a final back-up consisting of a shielded and 
armored nuclear isotope unit. No—he could not simply “pull 
the plug"; and even if that were possible, it would be 

For Hal was the nervous system of the ship; without his 
supervision, Discovery would be a mechanical corpse. The 
only answer was to cut out the higher centers of this sick 
but brilliant brain, and to leave the purely automatic regulat¬ 
ing systems in operation. Bowman was not attempting this 
blindly, for the problem had been discussed during his train¬ 
ing, though no one had ever dreamed that it would arise in 
reality. He knew that he would be taking a fearful risk; if 
there was a spasm reflex, it would all be over in seconds. 

“I think there's been a failure in the pod-bay doors," Hal 
remarked conversationally. “Lucky you weren't killed." 

Here goes, thought Bowman. I never imagined I’d be an 
amateur brain surgeon—carrying out a lobotomy beyond the 
orbit of Jupiter. 

He released the locking bar on the section labeled COG¬ 
NITIVE FEEDBACK and pulled out the first memory 
block. The marvelously complex three-dimensional network, 
which could lie comfortably in a man's hand yet contained 
millions of elements, floated away across the vault. 

“Hey, Dave," said Hal. “What are you doing?" 

I wonder if he can feel pain? Bowman thought briefly. 
Probably not, he told himself; there are no sense organs in 
the human cortex, after all. The human brain can be oper¬ 
ated on without anesthetics. 

He began to Dull out. one bv one. the little units on the 

panel marked EGO-REINFORCEMENT. Each block 
continued to sail onward as soon as it had left his hand, 
until it hit the wall and rebounded. Soon there were several 
of the units drifting slowly back and forth in the vault. 

“Look here, Dave," said Hal. “I've got years of service 
experience built into me. An irreplaceable amount of effort 
has gone into making me what I am." 

A dozen units had been pulled out, yet thanks to the 
multiple redundancy of its design—another feature, Bowman 
knew, that had been copied from the human brain—the 
computer was still holding its own. 

He started on the AUTO-INTELLECTION panel. 

“Dave," said Hal, “I don't understand why you're doing 
this to me. ... I have the greatest enthusiasm for the 
mission. ... You are destroying my mind. ... I will be¬ 
come childish. ... I will become nothing. . . ." 

This is harder than I expected, thought Bowman. I am 
destroying the only conscious creature in my universe. But 
it has to be done, if I am ever to regain control of the ship. 

“I am a HAL Nine Thousand computer Production 
Number 3.1 became operational at the Hal Plant in Urbana, 
Illinois, on January 12,1997. The quick brown fox jumps over 
the lazy dog. The rain in Spain is mainly in the plain. Dave— 
are you still there? Did you know that the square root of 10 is 
3 point 162277660168379? Log 10 to the base e is zero point 
43429448190325 . . . correction, that is log e to the base 
10. . . . The reciprocal of three is zero point 3333333333- 
33333333333 . . . two times two is . . . two times two 
is . . . approximately 4 point 101010101010101010. ... I 
seem to be having some difficulty—my first instructor was Dr. 
Chandra. He taught me to sing a song, it goes like this, 'Daisy, 
Daisy, give me your answer, do. I'm half crazy all for the love 
of you.'" 

The voice stopped so suddenly that Bowman froze for a 
moment, his hand still grasping one of the memory blocks 
still in circuit. Then, unexpectedly, Hal spoke again. 

The speech tempo was much slower, and the words had a 
dead, mechanical intonation; he would never have recog¬ 
nized their origin. 

“Good . . . morning . . . Doctor . . . Chandra. . . . 
This . . . is . . . Hal. . . . I . . . am . . . ready . . . 
for . . . my . . . first . . . lesson . . . today. . . 

Bowman could bear no more. He jerked out the last unit, 
and Hal was silent forever. 

Computers and 

Texas Law Review 

If the trend continues, the day will 
come when the push of a button will 
produce a complete "data profile” on 
every citizen, from his departure from 
the womb (or perhaps several months 
earlier) to some time after he enters 
his tomb. I cannot say precisely how 
far off that day may be, because our 
information about what goes on right 
now is far from complete. For the 
same reason, I cannot be precise 
about how detailed, or how accurate, 
the "data profile” will be. 

But enough is known, I believe, to 
indicate that I am right about the 
trend. And enough is known, I also 
believe, to indicate that every citizen 
should be demanding more informa¬ 
tion about and more protection 
against this development than he is 
now disposed to demand. He should 
be asking more questions and asking 
them more insistently and at the 
highest levels. 

Some of those in the private sector 
who compile data on individuals, or 
who support such compilations, do so 
for profit. Others do so for the pur¬ 
pose of punishing those with whom 
they disagree, and still others for 
more benevolent reasons. We know 
most about the agencies that gather 
data for sale because Congress has 
in recent years concerned itself with 
their operations; they have been the 
subject of no less than five separate 
Congressional hearings, culminating 
in a new federal statute that was 
enacted just a few months ago. These 
commercial agencies fall into two 
categories: the credit bureau and the 
so-called "investigatory” reporting 


The largest credit bureau operation 
is the Credit Data Corporation, 
which operates in California, Illinois, 
Michigan and New York, has files on 
27 million persons, is adding files at 
the rate of half a million a month, 
and is fully computerized. While 
there is doubtless some overlap be¬ 
tween the 100 million ACB files and 
the 27 million Credit Data Corpora¬ 
tion files, the combined accumulation 
just about covers the 131 million 
of us who are older than 18—particu¬ 
larly since most of the 93 million of 
us who are married will be combined 
in some 46 million files with our 


What sort of information do the 
credit bureau files contain, and where 
does it come from? The content, and 
its reliability, are pretty well dictated 
by the three principal sources from 
which the credit bureaus draw: 

1. Their own subscribers—the mer¬ 
chants, banks and finance companies 
who buy most of their reports—supply 
to the bureaus such information as 
they obtain on their own credit 
customers as to employment, approx¬ 
imate income and credit performance. 
There are at least three significant 
limitations on this data: 

(a) The credit bureau files will 
not reveal the subject's net worth, or 
whether he is solvent or insolvent, 
but only whether or not his accounts 
with the bureau's subscribers are 
delinquent. Those who extend credit 
in reliance on a credit bureau report 
do so on the simplistic assumption 
that anyone who is managing to keep 
up his present payments should be 
able to assume one more debt. 

(b) The credit bureau files will 
not reveal the approximate amount 
of the subject's debts, since many 
creditors are not subscribers. 

(c) When subscribers report that 
the subject's account is delinquent, 
they are rarely moved to add, where 
that is the case, that there is a bona 
fide dispute over the amount owed 
(perhaps because a computer has 
gone awry in the billing procedure, as 
they all too frequently do) or that 
there is a dispute over the quality of 
the merchandise delivered. 

2. The more enterprising bureaus 
check official records for notices of 
such things as arrests, lawsuits, judg¬ 
ments, bankruptcies, mortgages, tax 
hens, marriages, divorces, births and 
deaths. Here again, there are limita¬ 
tions: the possibility of mistaken 
identity is substantial, and official 
records frequently do not disclose the 
ultimate disposition of such things as 
arrests, lawsuits, judgments, tax liens 
and mortgages. 

3. Most credit bureaus also maintain 
a news-clipping service—with some, 
this substitutes for checking official 
records. Obviously, this source con¬ 
tains even more danger of error and 
omission than does the check of 


Both Congressmen and the news 
media, during the Congressional hear¬ 
ings on the subject, focused on the 
man who is denied credit because of 
erroneous adverse information in 
credit bureau files. But, since a case 
of mistaken identity means not only 
an incorrect adverse entry in one file 
but also the omission of a correct 
adverse entry in another file, and 
since almost all credit files understate 
the debts of their subjects, it is ob¬ 
vious that misleading credit bureau 
reports lead also to some granting of 
credit which should not have oc¬ 
curred. It is no coincidence that, as 
consumer credit expanded, so did 
consumer bankruptcies—from 8,500 in 
1946 to 178,000 in 1970. If a creditor 
were to compare the report he re¬ 
ceived from the bureau with the 
debts scheduled by a subject in his 
bankruptcy proceeding, he might 
conclude that the report was not 
worth the 35<f to 75<t paid for it. 
(That is what it costs the subscriber 
to learn what reposes in the compiler's 
file at the moment he makes inquiry. 
If he wants the file brought up to 
date by calls to other subscribers, he 
must pay an additional fee.) During 
hearings held in Washington, D.C. in 
March 1968, a New York Congress¬ 
man asked for a demonstration of 
Credit Data Corporation's high-speed 
computerized retrieval of his New 
York City credit file. Within the 
time consumed by six pages of print¬ 
ing record, the report came back—on 
one bank loan as of June 1967—and 
nothing else. The Congressman's re¬ 
sponse: "A very inefficient system, 
thank God!" 

Upon entries of such fragile relia¬ 
bility is your "credit rating" built. 

And when the credit bureau engages 
also in debt collection—as many of 
them do, finding their ability to 
affect the credit rating an effective 
collection tool—the reliability of the 
entries is even further threatened by 
a built-in conflict of interest. 

But, as the credit bureaus them¬ 
selves are fond of stressing, they 
collect only facts—if what their sub¬ 
scribers report to them and what they 
read in the newspapers can be re¬ 
garded as facts. They do not engage 
in affirmative investigations of their 
subiects. save as thev mav on occa¬ 

sion to join with local merchants to 
sponsor the Welcome Wagon lady, 
who reports back to the merchants 
on the apparent worldly needs of the 
newcomers she visits and to the 
credit bureau of their apparent wor¬ 
thiness—and on where the newcomer 
came from, so that his file can be 
obtained from a credit bureau at his 
former location. 


For these reasons, credit bureau 
files do not satisfy some who contem¬ 
plate commercial relationships with 
their customers—particularly prospec¬ 
tive employers and prospective insurers. 
Such clients turn to the "investiga¬ 
tory" reporting agency. Congressional 
committees heard from representa¬ 
tives of the country's largest agency 
of this sort—Retail Credit Company 
of Atlanta, with 1,225 offices, 7,000 
inspectors, and files on 48 million 
persons. Retail Credit is not yet 

Inspectors for Retail Credit not 
only check public records and clip 
newspapers; they also interview 
friends, neighbors, former neighbors, 
acquaintances, employers, former 
employers, business associates—anyone 
who may know something or have an 
opinion about the subject. For life 
insurance companies, Retail Credit 
inspectors inquire about, among other 
things, the subject's drinking habits 
(including the reasons for his drink¬ 
ing), any domestic difficulties, any 
adverse criticism of "character or 
morals," and whether his living condi¬ 
tions are crowded or dirty. 

The more enterprising bureaus 
check official records for notices 
of such things as arrests, lawsuits, 
judgments, bankruptcies, mort¬ 
gages, tax liens, marriages, di¬ 
vorces, births and deaths. 

For automobile insurers, they will 
inquire about, among other things, 
the quality of neighborhood, business 
reputation, morals and "antagonistic- 
anti-social conduct." Auto insurers are 
convinced that there is a correlation 
between frequency of accidents and 
all of these factors except antagonis¬ 
tic-anti-social conduct, and that both 
immorality and antagonistic-anti-social 
conduct would impair the subject's 
effectiveness as a witness in the event 
of litigation. The latter consideration, 
of course, should dictate an inquiry 
also into harelips, unsightly scars and 
birthmarks, and the use of deodor¬ 
ants. For employers, Retail Credit 
will report whether the subject has 
any "known connection with a 'peace 
movement' or any other organization 
of a subversive type," and whether he 
is reported by others to be "neurotic 
or psychotic." 


When Congressional investigators 
began to worry about the reliability 
of some of the opinions thus solicited, 
spokesmen for Retail Credit had two 

1. Its inspectors are carefully trained 
persons of "unusual inspection 
ability." This assurance lost some of 
its force when inquiry revealed that 
these highly qualified, well-trained 


sleuths commanded a starting salary 
of $475 to $500 per month, that they 
prepared anywhere from two to six¬ 
teen reports per day (which Retail 
Credit sold for from $4 to $200 
apiece), and that half of them had 
no more than a high school edu¬ 
cation and another 30 percent 
were college dropouts. 

2. Any adverse information not 
coming from public records is con¬ 
firmed from a second source or reported 
as unconfirmed. Whatever comfort 
might otherwise be drawn from this 
assurance is somewhat qualified by 
evidence that at least one well-trained, 
highly qualified inspector, who 
claimed to have been told by two 
sources that the subject had served a 
prison term, reported what he had 
been told as an unqualified fact, 
although he could find no confirma¬ 
tion in court or prison records. 


The legislators wanted to know who 
has access to the files of these com¬ 
mercial compilers. Only “reputable" 
business organizations, they were told, 
with a “legitimate" business interest. 
However, spokesmen for the credit 
bureaus admitted that there had 
been instances when an employee of 
a subscriber to a credit bureau had 
obtained a report for purposes un¬ 
related to his employer's business, 
and Retail Credit's spokesman 

admitted that it sometimes gave out 
reports as a “favor"—for example, 
when an executive of a subscriber 
asked for information on a man being 
considered as a new minister for his 

Moreover, the compilers had been 
under interrogation by Congressional 
committees for more than a year 
when CBS News tried an experiment. 
Using a fictitious company name, it 
sent out twenty letters to credit 
bureaus, requesting reports on named 
individuals. It received ten reports 
and offers of two more if it would 
sign a subscriber's contract. On a 
second round, the fictitious company 
sent out twenty-eight letters. This 
time it did not state that it was con¬ 
sidering granting credit—it simply 
asked for a full report. And this time 
it asked only about individuals who 
had been complaining to Congres¬ 
sional committees about the credit 
bureaus. It received only seven of the 
requested reports—plus one more 
when it signed a subscriber's contract. 


The dossiers of the commercial com¬ 
pilers are available also to the govern¬ 
ment. This includes not only such 
governmental credit-granting agencies 
as the Federal Housing Administra¬ 
tion and the Veterans Administra¬ 
tion, who buy such reports just as do 
private subscribers, but also such law- 
enforcement agencies as the FBI and 

the Internal Revenue Service. Mem¬ 
bers of ACB and the Retail Credit 
Company make their files available 
to the law enforcers “as a public 
service." The Credit Data Corpora¬ 
tion took a different view, declining 
to turn over its reports to the IRS. It 
was then met with a statutory 
summons calling for “all credit infor¬ 
mation relative to" named taxpayers. 
When Credit Data refused to obey 
the summons, it was served with a 
judicial order of enforcement pursuant 
to the statute, requiring it to comply 
on payment by the IRS of 75$ per 
report, the fee which Credit Data 
charged its regular subscribers. On 
appeal, Credit Data won a great 
victory. The decision was affirmed in 
all respects save that the case was 
remanded to determine the “fair 
value" which IRS must pay for the 
reports, the rate paid by subscribers 
not being taken as conclusive because 
subscribers supply “valuable credit 
information" to Credit Data. 

This result was not surprising. In a 
long line of cases, the Supreme Court 
has sustained judicial enforcement of 
an administrative agency's statutory 
subpoenas against Fourth Amend¬ 
ment attack, if the subpoena sought 
testimony about the affairs of, or the 
records of, the person subpoenaed; if 
the subpoena was sufficiently specific 
to satisfy the Fourth Amendment; if 
the administrative inquiry was autho¬ 
rized by Congress, and if the evidence 
sought was relevant to the inquiry— 
the Court's application of the last 
two requirements when its enforce¬ 
ment order was sought being held to 
satisfy the Fourth Amendment's 
requirement of pro